Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
People are obsessed with many things. Some fill their days with dreams of stardom or fame or popularity. Others are consumed with making money, getting promoted, achieving success, or being No. 1. Still others spend the bulk of their life devoted to more generally accepted passions like getting healthy, working out, or earning advanced degrees.
For some reason in our culture, we are obsessed with ourselves. It seems we just can’t enough of us. We spend hours posting meaningless tidbits about our lives on Facebook vainly hoping that someone really cares about pictures of our cat or what delicious meal we had for dinner. We tweet our pearls of pop wisdom hoping someone will re-tweet them and affirm, at least in our own mind, our value and importance as an up-and-coming social voice. We judge our popularity and self-worth by how many friends like us or follow us or pin us or subscribe to us. It’s like we think we’re the center of the universe—no matter how small that universe actually is.
“Look at me, this is what I’m eating for dinner. Yum.” Post.
“Look at me, this is a picture of my cat Mittens. Isn’t she cute? I just luv her.” Post.
“Look at me, I just took a picture of me smiling with a goofy expression. Don’t you think I look adorable? Please say I look adorable.” Post.
“Look at me, look at my Snapchat, look at my Instagram, look at my Tumbler, look at my Vines, just look at me, look at me, please look at me!” Post.
Sad, isn’t it? How did we ever get into this “it’s all about me” mess?
The Name Dropper
We also find this obsession with ourselves in the business world, the entertainment world and, unfortunately, within the church. In order to add to our own perceived self-worth we drop names, like gold nuggets, that we think others will respect and then link them to us like we were Siamese twins. We see this all the time.
“Oh, my buddy Steven Curtis Chapman once told me…” Really? The truth is you met Steven at the close of one of his concerts and had your picture taken with him on your iPhone.
“I remember when my close friend John Piper said…” Piper? Really? You went to a conference he was speaking at in 2008 and bought one of his books. And that doesn’t equate with him inviting you over for Thanksgiving dinner now, does it?
Get the point.
We, for some reason, feel too insecure to stand on our own merit around others and have to therefore artificially inflate, in our own eyes at least, our worth and value and importance in order to feel accepted, or loved, or appreciated, or whatever we think we lack. But if the truth be told, this is nothing more than pride, the chief of all sins.
Brother of James
Jude could have done the same thing. He could’ve been a name-dropper. We know he was the half-brother of Jesus because he was mentioned in the Gospels as a son of Mary and Joseph (Matt. 13:55). We also know he was listed last, which probably means he was the youngest son and we all know what insecurity that fact alone can bring into a family.
We also know Jude, like his other brothers, did not believe until after the resurrection of Jesus (John 7:5). We know he was one of the 120 in the upper room waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and he would have been a witness to Peter’s amazing, 25 verse sermon that led to over 3,000 coming to Christ at the birth of the church (Acts 2:41). We know he was married (1 Cor. 9:5) and was probably present at the Jerusalem council where his brother, James, presided (Acts 15).
But other than that, not much about Jude is known in Scripture.
So, here we have Jude, half-brother of the Lord Jesus, which would almost make him royalty within the early church, purposely referring to himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Not, “brother of Jesus” but simply, “brother of James.” Why? Why forgo the greatest name-dropping opportunity of all time?
Simply this, Jude remembered what happened when Mary and her other sons wanted to talk with Jesus. Do you remember the event?
Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:47-50).
Jesus had introduced a new paradigm in family relationships. It wasn’t natural relationships that defined a family anymore, but spiritual ones with Jesus and the Father and other believers. Jude must have understood this clearly. Therefore Jude identified himself as “brother to James”, who was the head of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17) and writer of the book that bears his name. And, like his brother (Jas. 1:1), Jude also identified himself as the “bondservant” or “slave” of the Lord Jesus and not as his half-brother. That, for Jude and for us today, was the highest calling in life and the greatest identification imaginable. To be known to others as the doulos, the “bondservant”, the voluntary slave of the God of the universe.
But there’s another reason Jude chose not to name-drop Jesus. And that reason was his humility. Unlike those of us in the church today, Jude was confident and secure with being known as the servant of the Lord. He was content and satisfied with being called a bondservant, literally a slave of his earthly older brother. In fact, he was proud of that title, “bondslave” or doulos and didn’t feel the need to flaunt his family pedigree. He fully understood the words of His Lord that in the Kingdom the “first shall be last and the last first” (Mark 9:35) and that the “greatest shall be the servant of all” (Matt. 23:11). He saw that life of humility and submission graphically portrayed, day in and day out, in his Lord Jesus and wanted to emulate that life, to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6).
There was no need for Jude to exalt his natural, family relationship with Jesus because he found something even greater than name-dropping. He found peace in his humility. He was content with who he was. No need to put on airs for others, Jude gladly wore the badge of a slave to the Lord.
Jude clearly understood and embraced what our selfie society has yet to grasp— that our self-worth is found in Whose we are and not in who others think we are or want us to be. We are to be confident and found in Christ. After all, He chose us to become “children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). And He chose us for no inherent merit of our own but simply for “His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:11). In other words, Jesus chose you and me and His half-brother Jude, simply because He wanted to. That’s it. Just because He wanted to.
Let that sink in for a moment.
If Christ chose us, you and me, because He wanted to, because He saw something in you He loved and valued, then why do we feel the need to constantly self-promote ourselves to make us feel wanted and loved and valued? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Why? Why do we grovel and beg for the approval of others when we already possess the approval of the Lord who “chose us in Him from the foundation of the world”? (Eph. 1:4). Why are we clamoring for acceptance in the eyes of others when the Lord “knows us by name”? (John 10:3) and the “very hairs on our heads are numbered” by Him? (Matt. 10:30). Why are we satisfied with so little when we already possess so much? Why can’t we realize we are already, like Jude, wanted and loved and valued by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ? What more do we need? Isn’t that enough?
Is it enough for you? Well, it is for me.
The Cure for Selfies (the self life)
One of the best cures for having to constantly self-promote in order to get others to notice you is to begin to view yourself through the eyes of the Lord and not through the eyes of our fallen culture that only wants to point out your faults, failures, defects and shortcomings. And the best way to do this is to see for yourself what the Scriptures actually say about you. But you must do more than simply read how God feels about you. You have to believe it— and then act upon what He says. The only cure for insecurity and selfies is faith in His Word and faith in what He says about you.
I’ve always found the following Scriptures to be of great encouragement to me during my dark times of doubt. They are from Neil Anderson’s Who I Am in Christ and lay out for us the reality, no, the truth, that we are Accepted, Secure and Significant in Him.
Read and be encouraged.
Who I Am in Christ
I Am Accepted
John 1:12 I am God’s child
John 15:15 I am Christ’s friend
Romans 5:1 I have been justified
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord (one spirit)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I am bought with a price, I belong to God
Ephesians 1:1 I am a saint
Ephesians 1:5 I have been adopted as God’s child
Ephesians 2:18 I have access to God through the Holy Spirit
Colossians 1:14 I have been redeemed and forgiven
Colossians 2:10 I am complete in Christ
I Am Secure
Romans 8:1-2 I am free forever from condemnation
Romans 8:28 I am assured all things work together for good
Romans 8:31-34 I am free from any charges against me
Romans 8:35-39 I cannot be separated from the love of God
2 Corinthians 1:22-22 I am established, anointed, sealed by God
Colossians 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind
Hebrews 4:16 I can find grace and mercy in time of need
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me
I Am Significant
Matthew 5:13-14 I am the salt of the earth
John 15:1,5 I am a branch of the true vine, channel of His life
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit
Acts 1:8 I am a personal witness of Christ’s
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God
2 Corinthians 6:1 I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9)
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me