'Building yourselves in your most holy faith,'
The new year is often a time when we look backwards and forwards. At this time of year we find ourselves looking back on the year that has just finished. We reflect on what happened, the good and the bad. We consider what we learned and what changed. Obviously we are looking back on a most unusual year! We also like to look ahead in the New Year and make plans. Some people make New Year's resolutions. Others have general goals or principles for the year ahead. Whether these resolution and goals are kept is another story altogether!
Some people plan to read more, learn an instrument or get better at cooking. For others they plan to spend more time with family or perhaps more time by themselves!
One of the most common resolutions around this time of year is to get fitter. Gym memberships increase dramatically around this time of year. They would have done so again were it not for lockdown restrictions! People start running, cycling, swimming or whatever in order to get fit.
In the New Testament, athletic imagery is often used to describe the Christian life. Paul often compares it to a race and describes his own life in that way (2 Tim 4). At the end of his letter, Jude uses what strikes me as an athletic phrase. Having warned the believers of false teachers who have crept in to the Church and led many astray, he turns to the true believers and encourages them to grow in their faith. That is how they will best combat the false teachers . He says 'But you beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith.' This phrase brings to mind a weightlifter, working hard in the gym, building himself up.
While we may not be able to go to the gym in the near future (You may have had no intention of doing so!), we can set our minds to build ourselves up in our faith in the year ahead. To grow in our knowledge and love for God through reading his word. To 'Pray in the Holy Spirit' as Jude says in the next part of that sentence. To meet with one another when possible for worship. To take part in the online meetings so that we might see one another and pray for one another. To read or listen to Christian books and sermons that will build us up and encourage us in our faith. To fight sin with God's help and pursue holiness.