Could YOU be a contender?
“On The Waterfront” is, in my opinion, one of the greatest movies ever produced! With great acting by Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, and Lee J. Cobb, and directed by Elia Kazan, the film won 8 Oscar Awards in 1955. From its powerful storyline comes the famous line by Terry Malloy (Brando) to his brother Charley (Steiger), “I coulda been a contender.” He was referring to an earlier time in his life, when as a boxer, he purposely lost a fight he could have, and should have won; all because his brother had connections to the mob.
I thought of this movie and its storyline while considering what Jude wrote to the first century believers:
“Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting – begging! – that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license – which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.” (Jude 1:3-4 MSG)
Another version uses the word “contend”:
“…I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3 ESV)
Jude was looking for CONTENDERS!
Jude was writing about a problem in the Church; a problem we have as well. The problem? Compromise. Another way of saying it – “attempting to mix traditions, opinions, feelings, and out and out error with Truth.” Truth really DOES NOT mix with anything other than truth, because once something else is added, it’s no longer truth.
Could compromise be one reason there are so many “Christian” denominations and sects? I am certain Jesus didn’t have all the different groups in mind when He prayed for unity in John 17.
He taught His disciples ONE gospel. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of THE gospel of Christ…”
“There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 ESV)
One! But through the years either people quit reading their bible, or they mixed other ideas with it! Some have had “special revelations”; and because the ideas were presented by “spiritual” and “well meaning people”, millions of undiscerning people have been led astray.
Because people didn’t “judge” what was being peddled as truth, and did not contend for the WHOLE of God’s revealed Truth – the Bible, we have so-called truth, or enlightenment, taught by people such as Mary Baker Eddy, Ellen G. White, Joseph Smith, Jr., Brigham Young, Charles Taze Russell, Phineas Quimby, Mohammed, Louis Farrakhan, and many others.
Even people, God fearing people like you and I, could possibly have let some truths “slip”, and have allowed other opinions and world views to take truth’s rightful place in our heart.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” (Hebrews 2:1 KJV)
Jude’s message is one we MUST heed, TODAY! If TRUTH is the only thing that sets people free, then two things must be understood. One, without TRUTH no one is free. And two, people must hear and believe TRUTH to be free. Not a “reasonable facsimile”, but TRUTH.
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3 NLT)
And that’s why we must contend for the faith. Expose compromise. Reveal error. Speak the TRUTH in love.
The Lord isn’t looking for someone who “coulda been a contender!” He’s looking for someone who IS A CONTENDER!
Could YOU be a contender?