Written by Paul McCartney, the ballad “Hey Jude” was penned to comfort and encourage a young man as he experienced turbulence in his life. Julian (Jude), son of John Lennon, was working through the hard changes in life as his father left his marriage relationship to be with someone else. The song was a letter thoughtfully written by a friend to a friend in need, written with emotion, and care.
Have you ever been in church and the pastor comes up to give the message and he says something like this, “this past week I worked on a message to give today but last night God laid it on my heart to share something different with you this morning.”
If you have read the short letter of Jude in the New Testament you will experience this exact notion. Verse three reads, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
Jude wanted to write about the incredible promise of salvation that each follower of Jesus shares in as a brother or sisters in his name. He introduces himself to us in this letter by identifying himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. Tasked with the responsibility of sharing the good news of salvation given to them through the death and resurrection of Jesus, he also felt the burden of speaking to the dangers that threatened to break apart their faith.
In the NIV translation much of Jude’s letter follows the heading, “The Sin and Doom of Ungodly People”. There were persistent, observable, and not so obvious problems (I will explore some of these in future blogs following this one) creeping up in the life of the church. The truth of the gospel message was slowly being twisted by false teachings; people (posing as friends) were purposely leading others into denying that Jesus was the anointed one, the sovereign Lord over their lives.
Jude was a friend, writing to friends in need. The Greek word translated “dear friend” (agapētos) can also mean beloved. There was a sense of deep connection, tenderness, care and love that Jude held for those in the church. The salvation they shared together served as a type of bond, both through their relationship with Jesus and then with one another as brothers and sisters. A true friend in Christ will always point you in the direction of Christ.
I am reminded of another song, “What a friend we have in Jesus”. Originally written as a poem by a pastor to comfort his mother while he was away, the song reminds me that we also have friends in Jesus. The church is like a home for people, a place where they seek comfort, safety and encouragement, a place where friends and family can come together because of their common faith and salvation.
Jude thoughtfully wrote this letter to urge his friends to contend for their faith, to stand up for what they believe in. When was the last time you encouraged a friend to stand firm in their faith or shared an encouraging word?
You don’t have to write a letter but don’t be afraid to try. With so many digital platforms that keep our lives connected, think about sharing an encouraging word with a friend today. Who will you say “Hey” to today?