Whenever I talk about mutuality, I tend to focus on a few passages, such as Ephesians 4:7-16 or 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. However, mutuality (the one-another’ing aspect of our lives together in Christ) is actually very pervasive (widespread) in Scripture.
One of those mutuality passages is Jude 20-23. Most people know that Jude writes about false teachers that had attached themselves to the church. He tells his readers that God would judge these false teachers just as he had judged others in history. But, what was the church supposed to do about these false teachers?
These are the only instructions that Jude gives directly to the believers reading his letter:
But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 20-23 ESV)
Interestingly, Jude never tells his readers to confront the false teachers. He never tells them to correct them. That doesn’t mean that confrontation or correction is wrong. Instead, it shows that neither confrontation nor correction was the focus for Jude.
What was his focus? His focus was on the continued growth of the believers who were reading his letter. And, he knew that growth would only happen if they worked together to help each other grow in maturity – even in face of false teaching. Why? Because shared life and shared service and shared discipleship is stronger than any false teacher.
How were the believers supposed to respond to false teachers? By continuing to keep themselves in the love of God by building up (edifying) each other and praying. In other words, Jude’s response to false teachers is mutuality – the whole church working together to help each other mature in Jesus Christ. In fact, instead of telling his readers to respond or react to the false teachers, he tells them to “[wait] for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And, what should the church do about those who follow these false teachers? Again, mutuality is the answer. They are to show mercy to those who need it and rescue those who will accept their help.
Perhaps most interesting to me is the fact that, in the face of false teaching, Jude does not tell his readers to keep themselves in the “truth of God.” He tells them to keep themselves in the love of God. Obviously, there is some correlation between God’s truth and God’s love, but it’s intriguing that Jude focuses on God’s love as a response to false teaching.
And, again, it’s not each person keeping himself or herself in the love of God. Jude envisions the church working together to help each other reamin in the love of God. Once again, a beautiful picture of mutuality where we might not expect it.