Sometimes it’s defined by a stubborn refusal to “let go”. Sometimes it’s demonstrated by the refusal to give up when you are advised to do so. Sometimes its focus is misdirected and is perceived by others as a vice. Sometimes it’s rightly directed and seen in the light of being virtuous and honorable.
John wrote in John 9, “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-3, NASB)
Do we see God in the same way?
Online synonyms for “tenacity” include: purpose, tirelessness, indefatigable, doggedness, strength of resolve, firmness, patience, purposefulness, staunchness, steadfastness, staying power, endurance, stamina, stubbornness.
Jude 1:20-23 states, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith… keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh …” (NASB) I find the phrase “snatching them out of the fire” to be a thought-provoking, colorful description.
What is “the fire”? According to the New Living Translation, the admonition reads, “…you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” (Jude 1:22-23, NLT)
For the “beloved” to be ready and able to fulfill that task, there are two dynamics actively at work: His beloved will be walking in tenacity, so that they actively, purposefully “keep” themselves “in the love of God” and are also pursuing a deliberate, ongoing process of spiritual maturity, “building themselves up.” Secondly, His beloved need to be positioned so that they are only an arm’s length away from those who are in the fire….or about to step into it.
pretty close contact…
But let me step back to two phrases, “keep yourselves in the love of God,” and “great caution, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” (or, “the sins that contaminate their lives.”) There is a crucial connection between the two. In donning our mortal flesh, with all the ramifications of the fall, Jesus experienced – but never accepted – an alienation from perceiving, receiving, embracing, and being empowered by the love of God… And He consistently snatched people from different types of “flames” seeking to consume those around Him.
Is our call to “flame-snatch” any different? Probably not…but our focus often is.
Paul writes to the Colossians, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds…” (Colossians 1:21, NASB)
Formerly alienated and hostile in mind…blinded from seeing God’s love towards each of us, as well as each person we come into contact with; not able to perceive or trust His Heart, His heart’s intent towards us.
I propose that our flame-snatching is less effective because it is easier and more natural to focus on “the sins that contaminate their lives” than it is to focus on keeping ourselves “in the love of God”…for keeping ourselves in the love of God first requires that we consistently seek to view God clearly….
But if we do, then we, also, can consistently build a testimony of the Father’s Goodness and His seeking, restorative Heart to a dark and hurting world.