Jude 1:12, “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;”
Now in verse 12, Jude uses illustrations from nature to describe the emptiness and worthlessness of these apostates and false teachers. He starts out by criticizing a celebration that was common in the early church leading up to communion, the breaking of bread and drinking and sharing of the wine associated with and in remembrance of the Lord’s Supper.
When celebrated in the early church, believers would actually partake of complete meals before taking part in Communion. In most cases it was described as a “fellowship meal” where the brothers and sisters could gather together. It was a time of reminiscing as well as teachers and what Jude is pointing out is that allowing these false teachers to take part was causing blemishes on the whole celebration. It was allowing some to criticizing and make claims of hypocrisy.
These false teachers, these apostates who truly knew better but had ulterior motives were becoming a danger to the not just the sacredness of the celebrations, but used these times as opportunities to steer others away from the truth. In some of the churches, this sharing of meals turned into times of wanton gluttony and drunken revelry and partying. In some of the churches, there were those who hoarded the food quickly while others who were taking part actually went without.
It shouldn’t have to be stated that no church function, no matter how special OR routine, should become an opportunity for selfishness or self-centeredness, disorder, greed, gluttony or any other sins that would destroy the unity and purpose of why brothers and sisters are gathering together. It truly does open the door to division and dissension when there should be a time of joy within the Body of Christ.
I don’t want you to think for one minute this was just isolated to the time of Jude’s writing either. Even today there are examples of this type of self-centeredness and self-righteous behavior.
My wife and I were involved many years ago in an independent, Charismatic-styled church that had actually broken off from an Assembly of God church in the area. Unbeknownst to us at first, the “Pastor” and his wife used to be Sunday School teachers that had a following out with the leadership of the Assemblies congregation and decided to take some of the membership and start their own church. We came in at a time when they were needing help with teaching and such and of course we dug right in. It didn’t take long for “red flags” to start popping up here and there, yet as we prayed for the Lord’s direction, the Holy Spirit prompted us to stay and work as well as teach.
Well, one of the monthly functions was to hand out food that was donated from organizations who collected food specifically for churches to distribute. We were all excited and the first Saturday that we were involved, as others in the congregation were gathering boxes and bags of food for themselves, my wife and I started putting together a couple of boxes for a couple of families we knew that were on again, off again members, but who were desperately in need of help like this.
When the “Pastor” asked us what we were doing, we of course told him and named the two families we were preparing the boxes for. His attitude and statement? These people knew when the food was going to be distributed and if they cared enough to come regular to church, then provisions could be made, but no one was going to “deliver” free food to them.
Do you think we were floored? That doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt! Here was an opportunity to be a blessing and yes, I know there are those who DO take advantage of church generosity, but love for others is an action and the Lord doesn’t tell us to just show love to those who can reciprocate in kind. Rather, we are demonstrate God’s love to ALL! It was a real eye-opener for us and we soon realized why the Lord sent us there.
The Lord led us there for a reason and we were there for quite a while teaching and serving, but it was not easy. I truly believe was giving them a chance to become something really special in that community, but the seed of self-centeredness and the lust for authority was a hard thing to combat. When it was all said and done, the Lord finally released Sue and I to go on to another work. But there are things about that “church” that I will have a hard time forgetting.
So when you look at it, you can certainly see the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Jude’s writing that is meant to span the generations and the many years before the time of the Lord to return. His Word, God’s Word is just as relevant today as it was then. Human nature just does not change without the help and influence of the Holy Spirit within.
The sad fact is that these people who come in like wolves, dressed as sheep, are there to destroy and besmirch the faith. Jude continues with illustrations and analogies so easy and common to comprehend. These people “are clouds without water, carried about by the winds.”
In other words, they promise with their lips refreshment to the dry and weary but in their wake all they leave behind is disappointment and disillusionment. As soon as they are done with their dirty work in one area, like the wind, they vanish and go to another area.