Lost Causes

I am a lost cause.  There, I’ve said it.  I am a lost cause.  There is nothing left in me but the smallest grain of a mustard seed.  Nothing.  Praise the Lord that even faith the size of the mustard seed is used by our Lord Jesus to make something, to do something, to save us for eternity.

Truth be told, I don’t remember a time- even since I was 3 or 4 years old- that I didn’t know this about myself.  It is who I am.  It is who God made me to be.

But it is also who God sent me to minister to, to comfort, to show the glories of a miraculous God and a Savior whose love is perfection, to defend the hurting and hopeless from the arrogance of arrogant Christian leaders, to give them over to God.

But mostly I identify with St. Jude because where others see impossibilities and hopelessness, I see potential and the limitless beauty of the human soul made in the image of God.  When others say, “It can’t be done,” I say, “God can do it.”  Of course my wife often reminds me, “I know God can do it, but I’m not so sure you can!”

When I look at a life demolished into rubble, I can see the Cornerstone just waiting for the right moment.  I believe God shows me how to make the impossible possible.  I myself am a pastor who is a lost cause seeing the possibilities of God bloom into fragrant flowers from dead wood everyday.

Somewhere between the impossibilities fueled by human faithlessness and the undisputed miracles of God are believers who don’t shrink in fear from the lost cause.

And this is why, though I haven’t been a Catholic since I was 6 years old, St. Jude has come to represent for me, not only who I am, but who some Christian souls in Dodge City are.

Jude, also called Thaddeus, was Jesus Christ’s Cousin.  His mother Mary was the cousin of the Virgin Mary.  Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.  St. Jude’s cousin St. James- the brother of Jesus and the first Bishop of Jerusalem, was martyred that year.  This is why they needed to select a new Bishop of the Church.  A survey of historians suggest that St. Jude was martyred by the Persians- the leaders of modern day Iran.

Jude was known to carry a club.  Was it to protect himself on his evangelistic travels?  Did he use it to beat off the murderers of Christians?  Was it because he was known for having little patience for the shenanigans of fake Christians?  Maybe he brought it with him to every church council meeting?

You decide.

But read here why St. Jude is known as the saint of  “desperate causes, desperate situations, and lost causes.”

Jude 1:1-25  Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:  (2)  May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.  (3)  Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.  (4)  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  (5)  Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.  (6)  And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– (7)  just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.  (8)  Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.  (9)  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  (10)  But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.  (11)  Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.  (12)  These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;  (13)  wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.  (14)  It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,  (15)  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  (16)  These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.  (17)  But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (18)  They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”  (19)  It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Could you imagine living like this as a Christian, in your Church, in your City, next door to your neighbors?  Too many of us already do.  But St. Jude is for the lost causes like us.  He reminds us of the amazing and unfathomable love of God even in the midst of the scoffers, of the ungodly people who already crept into the Church but are yet destined for damnation.

Does Jude tell us to beat them out of the temple?  Does he tell us to pour hate and speak death into their lives?

No.

Here’s what Jude tells us, in the most desperate situations and most lost causes:

(20)  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,  (21)  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.  (22)  And have mercy on those who doubt;  (23)  save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  (24)  Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,  (25)  to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

These words don’t say, “Dear Brethren, if you are at a church that is full of nasty people, kneel to the floor and submit to them.

No.

These words of Jude speak directly to today’s American Church.  They are true.  They are happening even now just as you breathe.

These words, and this is very serious, these words of God are true right now.  Not just for the people Jude wrote his letter to:

(4)  For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

He speaks of people sitting next to you in the pew, next to you in the boardroom.  And with his club in his hand, St. Jude sends us a warning today.

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