Have you ever heard of a love feast?
This is Part 4 in a series of posts on Jude 1-16, and we’re going to talk about people that ruin love feasts. Thus far in Parts 1, 2, and 3, we’ve been studying the ancient letter in the New Testament called Jude, and Jude has been telling a group of Christians about ungodly impostors that have infiltrated the church.
Jude says in verse 10 that these ungodly men speak abusively against what they don’t understand. It reminds me of a student who is studying physics or algebra and struggling with it, and just says, “This is stupid, why will I ever need this?” I might have said that a time or too… I might have even recently said something similar about books I’m reading for a doctoral program…
Or maybe you adults can admit to having spoken unkindly when seeing someone who has gotten themselves in a bad situation, perhaps a homeless man, with no understanding as to how he got there, who he is as a person and what his story is. Like the ungodly impostors, have you ever spoken abusively about what you didn’t understand?
What is worse, these ungodly impostors indulge in their animal instincts, their lusts, their passions, which is all they understand, and Jude says it is destroying them. They are unrestrained, lacking self-control. It gives the image of people who get drunk, who get high, who spend money irresponsibly, who overeat, etc., and do it with a bit of a self-righteousness and a judgmental heart to others.
Jude’s conclusion about them, his accusation, we see in verse 11 is, “Woe to them!”
A woe is a kind of prayer that speaks God’s judgement on people. “Woe” describes hardship, distress, even horror. Jude is saying that the ungodly impostors should be in horror because of what their end will be.
Then he gives three rapid fire illustrations of their ungodliness, all three based on Old Testament stories, thus showing how the impostors deserved woe.
First they have taken the way of Cain, which was a life lived in the opposite direction of God. Second, they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error, meaning they are willing to sell out for money. And finally they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion, which is another story about how the people of Israel rebelled and God judged them.
Jude is saying, “Church, do you realize the severity of this situation? Do you realize what you are allowing to go on in your church?” He then explains the situation further in verse 12. He says these men were blemishes at the church’s love feasts.
Love feasts? What is that? Basically it was a time when the church family would gather for a meal, followed by the Lord’s Supper. Grace Brethren and Moravian churches still do this, a wonderful expression of the unity of the church family. But in Jude’s day these impostors had come into the church, and though they were ungodly and even denying Jesus, for some reason they were still participating in the love feast.
It is so absurd to Jude. Those guys had no business being there! The Lord’s Supper is only for Christians. And the church was allowing the impostors to partake. Those guys denied Jesus in their hearts, in their actions and yet they still participated in communion? It was a mockery, and the church was allowing it to happen.
You can hear the righteous anger in Jude’s words as he launches into a bunch of illustrations to further describe these guys. They are shepherds who feed only themselves, which depicts their selfishness. And remember, they do this all while pretending to be a Christian.
Next he calls them clouds without rain. In an agricultural society that very much depended on rain, a cloud without rain was nearly useless. He says the wind blows the clouds by, showing the clouds were a waste, that they had succumbed to the greater power of the wind, which is what will happen to the impostors when God judges them.
He says they are autumn trees without fruit, uprooted, twice dead. Again, a total waste.
They are wild waves at seas, foaming up their shame. They lives produce a lot of commotion and drama, but nothing substantial. Nothing meaningful. They fade away.
He says they are wandering stars for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever, and image that reminds us of total separation from God.
In other words, Jude is saying that the ungodly impostors are in a very bad spot in life because of what they have coming to them. They are doing no good within the church. Contrast that with true Christians in the church, Christians who love Jesus and have hearts and minds in line with Jesus, who give their lives for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. Their actions will be ones that strive for unity, for love, for obedience to the ways of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident, flowing from them: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control.