Coral Reefs, Rainless Clouds, Dead Trees, High Waves, and Wondering Stars: What Fake Christians Do
Do not judge me” has become the ill-conceived moto twenty-first century America. The enlighten soul believes all truth claims can be transcended by culture, necessity, and time. Those who judge others violate the very maxim of contemporary life. While such aversions to judgement protect weary souls from having to listen to Aunt Janice’s underhanded criticisms, the philosophy provides little guidance for those attempting to navigate the twists and turns of life.
The human experience exists because of judgment. One eats vanilla cupcakes instead of chocolate because he judged vanilla cupcake to be more enjoyable. Another chooses her political candidate because the politician affirms policies she deems best. And ultimately the decision to praise or to imprison the young men who pleads with ladies to avoid the abortion clinic resides upon one’s judgment. Humans judge everything and everyone all the time.
Men and women do not struggle with judging their world. They struggle with discerning how to judge their world.
The Christian has no such struggle because the Scriptures claim to be the ultimate authority. Christians separate from non-Christians over the fault line of values. Christians base their judgement upon the Word of God and unbelievers base their values on ideas that camp outside the bounds of Scriptural truth.
To protect the church from unbelievers intent upon its destruction, Christian must stand ready to judge the actions of those within their tribe. Not all who claim Christ have entered the local church by the narrow gate and climbed the hill of Calvary. According to the book of Jude, fake Christians reveal their lack of faith through their teaching, motives, and actions (Jude 11-16).
What do false teachers do? When should we label someone an impostor and call them to repentance? Jude tells his readers that they should contend with those who destroy community, offer false promises, lack spiritual fruit, love evil, and run towards. Judgment.
Those who have never known salvation destroy the community of the church. The early church prioritized community. Acts 2:42 reports “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Today’s church should still be marked by community meals. The people of God should love living with each other in meaningful community built around kitchen tables and restaurant booths. Jude labeled these glorious meals of friendship “love feasts.”
But sadly, not all who come to the table come with pure intentions. False Christians come for complaints and boasting.
As men and women sail into the shallow harbors of community hoping to find rest from the waves of life, they crash into hidden corral of complaints. Like the spies in numbers 14, the false teachers transform the love feast into a complaint filled roast. They use the meal as a chance to glory in the short comings their family, their church, and their friends. After the fake Christians finish complaining, they turn to boasting. They share their latest spiritual nugget about money management although it has nothing to do with their fellow church member’s infertility issues. They turn the love feast into a battle for prestige, influence, and friends, praising and assaulting others in their attempt to gain more influence in their church.
And sadly, the fake Christians lack self-awareness. The text says, “They feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves.” They do not know the evilness of their actions. They believe their selfishness, greed, and pride belong in the church because they have done nothing more than “share the truth,” “passed along information,” or “said it like it is.” Yet no one else benefits from their efforts at ‘truth-telling’ except them. The sheep are starved and wander into error, despair, and harm. The false Christians gain weight while the rest of the church burns calories seeking to mend the damage they the have wrought. False teachers destroy without fear.
They also have no power. Fake Christians promise that their complaints, their greed, their boasting, and their selfishness will lead others to the rains of peace, unity, and spiritual growth. But nothing comes. They encourage others to follow them but they do not know where they are going and they never arrive at success. I remember hearing a pastor who bragged about how he had created a peaceful church through ignoring God’s commands to purify the church. On the surface, the church appeared to be peaceful. The business meetings came and went without a waft of contention. But under the surface, the church was rocked by contention. Unaddressed sin broke down marriages, destroyed families, and forced more than one couple out of the church. The pastor promised that biblical negligence would lead to rains of biblical peace. But the rains never came. The clouds were swept along, leaving the once hopeful Christians hopeless, broken, and discouraged. Instead of finding a harvest of souls, the congregation slowly shrank.
The false Christians’ advice lacks rain because their lives lack fruit. The false Christians may possess a powerful conversion story but they have nothing else. They cannot talk about how they were freed from racism, greed, or fear over the last year. They are the same racist, greedy, and fearful person today that they were at the moment of their conversion. Christians bear fruit keeping with repentance. They do not have to boast of their conversion or secular accomplishments because they can praise God for having liberated them from yesterday’s pride, praylessness, and grumbling. Those who lack fruit prove they lack faith.
Jude notes that fake Christians are twice dead and need to be uprooted. Instead of saving, the gospel hardens the false Christian’s heart, preparing them for destruction. Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23;15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”
While false Christians lack good works, they excel at evil. Jude describes them as wild waves casting up the foam of their own shame. Instead of hiding their sin, they flaunt it. Husbands attend church with their girlfriends. They boast about mistreating minorities on Facebook. They call up others and regularly flaunt their ability to rip their friends a new one. And, they boast about showing favoritism, inviting Sally and not Johnny to sit next to them at the next church social. They cast their evil before church like a hurricane sending waves crashing onto the shore.
Fake Christians destroy love feasts, give empty advice, lack fruit and flaunt evil because they wonder about the heavens apart from God. They are reserved for judgement because they have rejected the gospel and the authority of Jesus. Unhinged from the Scriptures, they float about freely and aimless committing evil deeds.
To illustrate God’s determination to destroy these false Christians, Jude references a prophecy from Enoch which reveals that every ungodly action and word will be punished. Justice will arrive. The vengeance that the hurting and abused have longed for will come to pass. The angels from heaven will come with Jesus to annihilate the false Christians.
If God plans to cast the fake Christians into hell, the church must follow suit. In Matthew 18:18 Jesus tells us that the church should reflect the kingdom of heaven: “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Thankfully these warning have come to us to highlight salvation. Christians practice church discipline not to remove men and women who dislike their choices in carpet or sports teams but to gain back brothers and sisters who are walking to destruction. The church best helps the false Christian when she exposes his sin so that he can see his errors, repent, and join the church as a true brother and sister.
The gospel breaks away from the world at this point. The world believes people live outside the kingdom of change. The drunk will always be a drunk. The greedy will always be greedy. The angry will also be violent. To quote from the Frozen Song “Fixer Upper,” “We’re not saying you can change her, ’cause people don’t really change.” Yet the gospel presents a different message. People do change. Jesus died on the cross to liberate us from the power of sin and death. We do not have to walk sad fruitless lives. We can go from light to darkness. Jesus came and lived the life of perfection that we were supposed to live and then he died upon the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. And then he rose again showing that all who trust in him will gain access to God and righteousness. If you want to change embrace the saving power of God. Repent and believe.