- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2000

For this men's day celebration, I have been inspired by the last few verses of the Book of Jude.
You always have to be careful with the Book of Jude. If you say "the first chapter of Jude," people know you don't know your Bible. Jude is a little book tucked away just before Revelation, which closes the canon of our holy Scripture.
Jude is known for this beautiful benediction, saying "keep yourselves in the love of God," He says God "is able to keep you from falling." You may ask, "Why does the preacher want to begin a sermon with the end of a book?" In the scheme of God's universe, every beginning is an end and every end a beginning… .
It was difficult for Jude to produce even these few verses, but God has a way of coming in. Right at the start, Jude is ashamed of something. He doubted his own self-worth because he doubted God. In his struggle, he just kept working, and in the end he gave us one of the world's most powerful benedictions, so that on days like today, you and I can be reminded that "God is able."
God said to Jude, "Tell them that nothing can come between you and the love of God." In the comings and goings of life, there are challenges that make you question whether God is real, who you are and even whether you want to be… . Jude devoted a whole book to say that God is able.
In his work "Ancient African Religion," Ulysses Jenkins points to the difference between surface-level truths and deeper truths. Jude is not directly telling us how God is able. Yet we know God has the authority. He is all-powerful. You wrestle with the book, and then at the end, there it is: God is able… .
Jude had a struggle about who he was, and some of you struggle to figure out what it means to be a black man in this world. Jude realized that God has dominion over all things, things seen and unseen, things known and unknown. With God there is nothing about the past that stands in the way of the future… .
It takes a church to raise a people, and strong Christian men to lead the way. God is able to show you how. And God is free. Can you imagine a God who is shackled or bound? He is free to do what He needs to do… .
God is able to love us when nobody else can, even when it seems impossible to love ourselves. I tell you, people need to know they are loved, and black men need to know this, too especially if you are an African-American Christian in the face of all the oppression and degradation. It makes it difficult for you to maintain the strength of your convictions. To be a black man, so many in society will look at you like you are nothing.
Some of you try day in and day out to prove the strength of your convictions. Everyone who has loved God has been through it. Abraham and Jacob went through it. So did Moses and Paul and even Jude.
It's just that sometimes it appears that God is not there. We begin to wonder about ourselves. We get caught up in bad theology, doubting what God created… .
You cannot be filled with love and mistreat somebody no way, no how. You can't lose love. The more you share it, the more it comes. You need daring to love yourselves and then love others even more, especially you black male Christians.
Everyone needs this, but when a young black man picks up a gun and shoots another black man, he is saying something about how he sees himself… . We have children out here who need to know that they are pretty, because God made them pretty.
On a day like today, we all feel good. Love makes you feel good. But you men have to do something with this good gift. Men, you've already got your projects, and work for the church. But there is always more to be done. God has an assignment for you. In your circles, move on, knowing that God is able.
Look at Jude, who tells us "God is able to keep you from falling."

Next week: a sermon at a Virginia church.

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