Hello everyone! How’s February treating you? Don’t worry, there’s only a little over one month until spring is finally here… But until then, it’s back to cold days! (At least here… today its 36 degrees with a low of 28.) The sad part is, its never quite cold enough for snow, only to make my hands so dry they crack and bleed. Oh, well. At least we won’t have snow days pushing school further out into the summer.
Anyway… enough talk about the weather. I have a really good verse to share with y’all today.
This morning I was reading Jude, and I was struck (again) by the beauty of the second half of the first verse. Just take a look at it…
“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.”
Yeah, yeah, a nice greeting and all, but what of it? It struck me what a perfect description this verse is of our standing as Christians. Let’s look at each tidbit of truth in this rich little verse.
“Those who are called.” We throw that phrase around a lot in the Christian community. I don’t know if we fully understand the meaning of it. The idea of this word “called” as used here in Jude 1 is that of being “called, or invited to a banquet.” Or, more specifically, “invited (by God in the proclamation of the gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God through Christ.” (This is straight out of Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.)
The Bible has a lot to say about the believer’s calling. According to Romans 8:28, we have been called “according to His purposes”. Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2 make it clear that we are called “to be saints,” which more literally is a parallel to the special separation unto God that the Israelites had, now transferred to Christians, “that under the Holy Spirit they may be rendered, through holiness, partakers of salvation in the kingdom of God” (from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon again). Pretty cool, right?
Beloved in God the Father
This verse makes me think of Romans 1:7, where the book is addressed “to all who are beloved of God in Rome.” I remember reading that a few months ago and being totally floored that I could be called beloved of God. In addition to beloved, this word means “esteemed, dear, favorite.” Think, a dad who dotes on his little child. Or, a little kid who totally loves their dog or cat. Or, a guy who’s totally head over heels for his girlfriend. Or, that guy from Up who’s in love with his wife for years after she dies…. Okay, that one’s a little off-topic, but you get the picture. God really loves us.
But when you look at some other verses that use the same word, you see something totally, totally cool. Seriously, this is amazing…
We all remember that verse when Jesus is getting baptized, and that other when He’s being transfigured, where God essentially opens up the heavens and shouts about how much He loves His Son. Actually, there are 5 accounts of this happening, and each time God says something very similar:
While He was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5)
That word beloved used to describe how much God loves Jesus is the same word He uses for us! Isn’t that amazing? This literally blew my mind when I figured it out. Okay, so not literally, but still. Just let that sink in for a minute. We, too, are God’s beloved!
Kept for Jesus Christ
Honestly, this is something I never understood until a few years ago. Keeping? Disciplining? (They go hand in hand.) What do those even mean? But once it clicked for me, it quickly become one of my very favorite doctrines to cling to when I’m discouraged.
Read John 10:27-29—
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Think of how strongly Jesus is holding us! No one can ever, ever, ever snatch us out of His hand. Or the Father’s hand, either. He is greater than all—do you think anyone is going to one-up Him when it comes to keeping His “sheep?”
Speaking of sheep, what is a shepherd? One who keeps sheep. That example wasn’t used on accident. Think of the lengths David went to protect his sheep from danger—fighting both a lion and a bear. That’s commitment! And Jesus went much further to ensure our eternal safety.
Jesus has us so securely. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can separate us from His love, from His keeping power. He has placed His seal on us (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30), and written our names on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). He will not forget us, He will not forsake us.
Aren’t those beautiful truths? And all from one small verse. As Christians, we have such a glorious identity in Jesus Christ. In addition to being called, beloved, and kept, we are many, many other things… but I think those are three of the most wonderful things we could be. Wouldn’t you agree?
I hope you enjoyed this week’s post! Be sure to come back next Tuesday for my next post, and let me know what you think by leaving me a comment. 🙂