‘Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God]’ (Jude 1:3 Amplified).
This is an SOS message. Jude writes urgently to the Church to contend for the faith!
Why would he write such a desperate message? It was because the faith was under attack. Though this urgent message was penned long ago, it is still as relevant today, if not more so. Our faith is under attack. The greatest challenge of this assault is that too many of us are unaware of the onslaught.
Jesus rounding off His story exhorting to steadfast prayer asked profoundly: ‘When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 8:8). This question suggested that in the last days there would be a great loss of faith. I dare say that one of the most critical challenges of Christianity today is the loss of faith. When the Son of Man returns, will He indeed still find faith in the earth?
There is a concerted effort to relegate our faith to the dump heap of the irrelevant and the archaic. Our faith is being depicted as obsolete, impotent and even dangerous to society. But that devil is a liar. The very reason our faith is under such attack is because it is so relevant and desperately needed. Our faith is our life. We must earnestly contend for the faith.
To contend effectively for the faith we must understand our faith.
There are two sides to the faith, like two sides of the same coin; we cannot divorce ourselves from one while keeping the other.
We mostly understand the personal side of faith, but there is also a corporate side to faith. The faith is a system of belief that we subscribe to and, at the same time, a personal walk. So faith is both found in the collective as well as the individual. Faith is a movement but also a life we lead. Faith is both institutional and relational.
Some would want to discard the corporate and embrace only the personal; evict the collective and grant residence only to the individual; deny the system while claiming a personal walk; stop the movement while attempting to only live the life, and refuse the institution while keeping the relationship.
No can do. There are many things that can only be accessed through the corporate, tapped into via the collective, worked by the system, achieved in the movement and realised only in the institution.
Others would have only the corporate and shun the personal; revel in the collective while ignoring the individual; master the system while having no personal walk; flow with the movement while not living the life, and stand with the institution while never entering relationship.
This also is a mistake. Intimate battles and final judgment are not a corporate matter but a personal account – for the just shall live by His faith.
We need both: the corporate and the personal.
When we talk about contending for the faith, it is to contend for both. We cannot contend for one without the other. So, if we would contend for the faith, we must contend for both. We must contend for both the institutions of faith and faith relationships; the faith movement and the faith life; the system of faith and the walk of faith; our collective faith and your individual faith; our corporate faith and your personal faith.
Oh that we would grasp a deep understanding of this truth.
Today, it is popular to be anti-institution. It is hip to be non conventional. So many want to only embrace a personal faith while rejecting a corporate belief system. We fail to realise that the true objective of the assault on corporate faith is actually on personal faith. (How many have lost and are losing their personal faith on the battlefield of the assault on corporate faith?)
Satan desired to have Peter (Luke 22:31-32). What he was really after was Peter’s faith, hence Jesus prayed that no matter what, he would not lose his faith. Satan’s true objective is your faith. He wants your faith.
Why is satan after your faith? He knows that your faith is your life (‘the just shall live by faith’); your faith is your sight (‘we walk by faith and not by sight’); your faith is your victory (1 John 5:4); your faith is the substance of things hoped for (Hebrews 11:1). As long as you still have your faith, you can recreate any and everything that devil stole.
So, we must earnestly contend for the faith that has been passed on to us. We must fight the good fight of faith and protect both the personal and the corporate.
Will you contend for the whole faith today?
Temi Odejide is an astute teacher of God’s Word and Resident Pastor of House on the Rock London.