The nice thing about a closing prayer at church is it gives you time to gather up all your stuff and get a head start on the mad rush to the restaurant. The truly adventurous churchgoer might even take advantage of all those closed-eyed people and bolt for the door when no one’s looking. Pity the poor benediction. It’s no more than a holy starter's gun: ready, set, amen, go!
But what if the benediction is filled with revelation and life? What if the Holy Spirit has inspired life-changing words available to anyone with ears to hear?
We have at least one example of a life-giving benediction buried near the back of the book. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, speaks words of life over his original hearers, and these words are life-giving still today:
Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (vs 24-25)
Before we turn the page and rush into the Apocalypse, perhaps we can discover some of the revelation in this short good-bye prayer.
He is able to keep us from falling. This is an amazing comfort! Jude reminds us that part of God's greatness is not only that he can remove our guilt, he is also able to keep us from falling. Do we dare believe it? To walk with him means becoming the kind of person able to walk uprightly before him.
Presented before God — without fault! As we are learning to walk free from stumbling, God is actively taking care of those moments when we do stumble. How to you react to this statement: “The day is coming when you must stand before God.” It should be a source of joy because we can have the confidence that he himself will present us faultless. So what’s to worry about? He teaches us how to walk and repairs our missteps — the best of both worlds.
With great joy. Today, like every day for a student of Jesus, we are reminded that the end of our journey is joy, even great joy, or as one translation says, exceeding joy. If this is my destination, why shouldn't I grow more joyful with each step?
The author of these three assurances is God, our Savior, who has the glory, majesty, power and authority to bring it all to pass. He has proven it in Jesus Christ, and Jude reminds us this is so, but only if we stay for the benediction — the good speaking. Who will speak good over you today? Your brother, Jude — who was also the Lord’s brother. Peace!