Hidden ReefsShipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
People are obsessed with many things. Some fill their days with dreams of stardom or fame or popularity. Others are consumed with making money, getting promoted, achieving success, or being No. 1. Still others spend the bulk of their life devoted to more generally accepted passions like getting healthy, working out, or earning advanced degrees.
For some reason in our culture, we are obsessed with ourselves. It seems we just can’t enough of us. We spend hours posting meaningless tidbits about our lives on Facebook vainly hoping that someone really cares about pictures of our cat or what delicious meal we had for dinner. We tweet our pearls of pop wisdom hoping someone will re-tweet them and affirm, at least in our own mind, our value and importance as an up-and-coming social voice. We judge our popularity and self-worth by how many friends like us or follow us or pin us or subscribe to us. It’s like we think we’re the center of the universe—no matter how small that universe actually is.
“Look at me, this is what I’m eating for dinner. Yum.” Post.
“Look at me, this is a picture of my cat Mittens. Isn’t she cute? I just luv her.” Post.
“Look at me, I just took a picture of me smiling with a goofy expression. Don’t you think I look adorable? Please say I look adorable.” Post.
“Look at me, look at my Snapchat, look at my Instagram, look at my Tumbler, look at my Vines, just look at me, look at me, please look at me!” Post.
Sad, isn’t it? How did we ever get into this “it’s all about me” mess?
The Name Dropper
We also find this obsession with ourselves in the business world, the entertainment world and, unfortunately, within the church. In order to add to our own perceived self-worth we drop names, like gold nuggets, that we think others will respect and then link them to us like we were Siamese twins. We see this all the time.
“Oh, my buddy Steven Curtis Chapman once told me…” Really? The truth is you met Steven at the close of one of his concerts and had your picture taken with him on your iPhone.
“I remember when my close friend John Piper said…” Piper? Really? You went to a conference he was speaking at in 2008 and bought one of his books. And that doesn’t equate with him inviting you over for Thanksgiving dinner now, does it?
Get the point.
We, for some reason, feel too insecure to stand on our own merit around others and have to therefore artificially inflate, in our own eyes at least, our worth and value and importance in order to feel accepted, or loved, or appreciated, or whatever we think we lack. But if the truth be told, this is nothing more than pride, the chief of all sins.
Brother of James
Jude could have done the same thing. He could’ve been a name-dropper. We know he was the half-brother of Jesus because he was mentioned in the Gospels as a son of Mary and Joseph (Matt. 13:55). We also know he was listed last, which probably means he was the youngest son and we all know what insecurity that fact alone can bring into a family.
We also know Jude, like his other brothers, did not believe until after the resurrection of Jesus (John 7:5). We know he was one of the 120 in the upper room waiting for the promised coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14) and he would have been a witness to Peter’s amazing, 25 verse sermon that led to over 3,000 coming to Christ at the birth of the church (Acts 2:41). We know he was married (1 Cor. 9:5) and was probably present at the Jerusalem council where his brother, James, presided (Acts 15).
But other than that, not much about Jude is known in Scripture.
So, here we have Jude, half-brother of the Lord Jesus, which would almost make him royalty within the early church, purposely referring to himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Not, “brother of Jesus” but simply, “brother of James.” Why? Why forgo the greatest name-dropping opportunity of all time?
Simply this, Jude remembered what happened when Mary and her other sons wanted to talk with Jesus. Do you remember the event?
Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:47-50).
Jesus had introduced a new paradigm in family relationships. It wasn’t natural relationships that defined a family anymore, but spiritual ones with Jesus and the Father and other believers. Jude must have understood this clearly. Therefore Jude identified himself as “brother to James”, who was the head of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17) and writer of the book that bears his name. And, like his brother (Jas. 1:1), Jude also identified himself as the “bondservant” or “slave” of the Lord Jesus and not as his half-brother. That, for Jude and for us today, was the highest calling in life and the greatest identification imaginable. To be known to others as the doulos, the “bondservant”, the voluntary slave of the God of the universe.
But there’s another reason Jude chose not to name-drop Jesus. And that reason was his humility. Unlike those of us in the church today, Jude was confident and secure with being known as the servant of the Lord. He was content and satisfied with being called a bondservant, literally a slave of his earthly older brother. In fact, he was proud of that title, “bondslave” or doulos and didn’t feel the need to flaunt his family pedigree. He fully understood the words of His Lord that in the Kingdom the “first shall be last and the last first” (Mark 9:35) and that the “greatest shall be the servant of all” (Matt. 23:11). He saw that life of humility and submission graphically portrayed, day in and day out, in his Lord Jesus and wanted to emulate that life, to “walk as Jesus walked” (1 John 2:6).
There was no need for Jude to exalt his natural, family relationship with Jesus because he found something even greater than name-dropping. He found peace in his humility. He was content with who he was. No need to put on airs for others, Jude gladly wore the badge of a slave to the Lord.
Jude clearly understood and embraced what our selfie society has yet to grasp— that our self-worth is found in Whose we are and not in who others think we are or want us to be. We are to be confident and found in Christ. After all, He chose us to become “children of God, and if children, then heirs— heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17). And He chose us for no inherent merit of our own but simply for “His good pleasure” (Eph. 1:11). In other words, Jesus chose you and me and His half-brother Jude, simply because He wanted to. That’s it. Just because He wanted to.
Let that sink in for a moment.
If Christ chose us, you and me, because He wanted to, because He saw something in you He loved and valued, then why do we feel the need to constantly self-promote ourselves to make us feel wanted and loved and valued? Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Why? Why do we grovel and beg for the approval of others when we already possess the approval of the Lord who “chose us in Him from the foundation of the world”? (Eph. 1:4). Why are we clamoring for acceptance in the eyes of others when the Lord “knows us by name”? (John 10:3) and the “very hairs on our heads are numbered” by Him? (Matt. 10:30). Why are we satisfied with so little when we already possess so much? Why can’t we realize we are already, like Jude, wanted and loved and valued by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ? What more do we need? Isn’t that enough?
Is it enough for you? Well, it is for me.
The Cure for Selfies (the self life)
One of the best cures for having to constantly self-promote in order to get others to notice you is to begin to view yourself through the eyes of the Lord and not through the eyes of our fallen culture that only wants to point out your faults, failures, defects and shortcomings. And the best way to do this is to see for yourself what the Scriptures actually say about you. But you must do more than simply read how God feels about you. You have to believe it— and then act upon what He says. The only cure for insecurity and selfies is faith in His Word and faith in what He says about you.
I’ve always found the following Scriptures to be of great encouragement to me during my dark times of doubt. They are from Neil Anderson’s Who I Am in Christ and lay out for us the reality, no, the truth, that we are Accepted, Secure and Significant in Him.
Read and be encouraged.
Who I Am in Christ
I Am Accepted
John 1:12 I am God’s child
John 15:15 I am Christ’s friend
Romans 5:1 I have been justified
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord (one spirit)
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I am bought with a price, I belong to God
Ephesians 1:1 I am a saint
Ephesians 1:5 I have been adopted as God’s child
Ephesians 2:18 I have access to God through the Holy Spirit
Colossians 1:14 I have been redeemed and forgiven
Colossians 2:10 I am complete in Christ
I Am Secure
Romans 8:1-2 I am free forever from condemnation
Romans 8:28 I am assured all things work together for good
Romans 8:31-34 I am free from any charges against me
Romans 8:35-39 I cannot be separated from the love of God
2 Corinthians 1:22-22 I am established, anointed, sealed by God
Colossians 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that the good work God has begun in me will be perfected
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind
Hebrews 4:16 I can find grace and mercy in time of need
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me
I Am Significant
Matthew 5:13-14 I am the salt of the earth
John 15:1,5 I am a branch of the true vine, channel of His life
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit
Acts 1:8 I am a personal witness of Christ’s
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God
2 Corinthians 6:1 I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9)
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
The Blessings of Slavery
Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude
The Blessings of Slavery
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
Jude, along with Paul and others in the New Testament, continually referred to themselves as “bondslave” or “bondservant” or “doulos” in the Greek— which is a strange combination of words to describe yourself. Bond and slave.
Actually, the English word “bondslave” or “bondservant” is an invented, contrived, hyphenated word that has no parallel in the Greek and was created by modern translators of the Bible to avoid the negative stigma associated with the word, slave. They didn’t want the readers of the NIV, ESV, NASB, RSV, ASV, among others to feel convicted or troubled or uncomfortable by the true definition of doulos which is, and always has been, slave. Not servant. Not employee. It’s simply, slave.
After all, the two words completely contradict each other. You are either free or slave. There is no middle ground. You can’t have it both ways, not matter how uncomfortable slave makes you feel.
What Does it Mean to be a Slave
Just saying the word today in our politically charged cultural environment makes you feel a bit uneasy, doesn’t it? But for me, the word slave brings back memories of the groundbreaking miniseries I saw in the late 70’s titled Roots.
Every evening, from the 23rd to the 30th of January, my family and I and 130 million others sat glued to the tube in our respective living rooms and watched Alex Haley’s opus unfolded before us in living, brilliant Technicolor.
It was an amazing piece of forgotten American lore— painstakingly tracing the life and lineage of a common slave, Kunta Kenti, from his capture in the African bush in 1750 and ending with his descendant, the Pulitzer Prize winning author Alex Haley— portrayed by James Earl Jones. It seemed like every African-American movie star that was popular at the time was in that movie: Ben Vereen, Academy Award Winner Louis Gossett Jr., Cicely Tyson, Scatman Crouthers, LaVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, John Amos, Richard Roundtree and a host of others.
Years later, filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg would also try to capture the horrors of slavery with movies like Amistad— which was like Schindler’s List for slaves, only worse. What Schindler’s List did for the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany, Roots did for African slaves in the Bible belt.
The repercussions of Haley’s book and movie were staggering.
For example, in my sophomore year of college, probably as a direct result of the movie Roots, we all were required to take a race-relations course or workshop or encounter group or something as part of our core curriculum. Most of what I remember of our time in my first and last encounter group was that all the white students in the class had to apologize for the sins of their ancestors— even if none of them, obviously, had ever been slave owners. I don’t really remember what we all did in that encounter group, but we passed and earned our freedom.
So somebody must have apologized to somebody for something.
Back to the Roots of the Matter
Looking back, I think those 9 plus hours of watching Roots opened my eyes, for the first time, to the inherent evils of slavery and the hopeless plight of slaves in the deep South. What I came to truly understand from my Roots experience was that slavery was bad— real bad. Unbelievably bad.
Slavery, by definition, took away a person’s right to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” In its raw form, slavery took from a person their personhood. Slavery reduced a human being— one created in the image of God, to the status of a possession, a mere living tool, of having the value of simple cattle.
And it always brought out the very worst in human nature.
Think about it, you had slave owners who would dress up their kids on Sunday and cart them off to church to hear the preacher proclaim the matchless grace of God. Maybe the text was from the pen of the Apostle Paul, from the book of Galatians. Maybe it went something like this, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Then, when back on the plantation, ignoring the Sunday message, after the feast of fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and cool lemonade— that very slave owner, still dressed in his Sunday best, would beat or berate a slave for failure to meet expectations, or for longing for freedom, or for wanting his family to stay together and not be sold off to another plantation in a neighboring county, or… and the list goes on and on and on.
Shamefully, you would even have so-called Christian slave owners who felt it was their God-given right to own other Christians as slaves and then treat them harshly and with evil intent knowing, full well, that the grace of God forgave the sins of both.
For some reason, the right of absolute power over the life and future of another human being never seems to bring out the best in fallen humanity.
History shows us that you don’t have many accounts of slave owners reaching out to their slaves with a ministry, missionary-type of mindset. No, there are not many accounts of a slave owner taking his slaves under his wing and into his own house to teach them, love them, accept them, nurture them, or minister to them as Christ commands us to do to the very least among us.
Did you ever wonder why?
Have you ever heard the old proverb, “Blood is thicker than water”?
Sometimes it is. And, sometimes it isn’t.
Sadly, I think it all depends on the color of the skin from which it bleeds.
Slavery seemed to always bring out the worst in people. Always.
Did you ever wonder why?
Who Do You Trust?
If you were a slave, and you had the chance to escape or earn or fight for your freedom, would you choose to remain a slave? I don’t think so. It makes no sense to choose to remain a slave when freedom is the other option—or when anything is the other option.
Who would trade their freedom for bondage? Would you?
Would you give up your right to yourself in exchange for anything? Would you voluntarily submit your will, the absolute sovereign right to your life and death, to your reputation and fortune, to your happiness and fulfillment, to somebody else? No way. Why?
Simple. You just can’t trust people that much.
“Oh, sure you can. You’re just being too cynical.”
Ok, think about it.
We, as a society, really don’t trust our spouses. We have an entire segment of the legal profession solely dedicated to the art of crafting ironclad pre-nuptial agreements before a man and woman, deeply in love, publicly pledge their lives together in marriage.
“Honey, you know I love you with all my heart and soul. And, I solemnly pledge to spend the rest of my life with you, forever, which is a really long time! Uh, but just in case it doesn’t work out and either you or I decide to dump one another and make the same pledge of life-long commitment to someone else… uh, how about we determine now how we’re gonna divide up the stuff then? You know, to kinda get a jump on the property settlement part of our divorce. How about if you keep your stuff and I’ll keep my stuff? You take the girl and the house and I’ll take the boy and the boat. Whatdayasay? Sound fair? You wanna sign?”
We don’t trust our parents. We don’t trust good ol’ mom and dad, the Ward and June Cleaver of the Cold War generation and the Frank and Marie Barone of the War on Terror generation. We don’t trust them to make any decisions about our future mate or occupation or anything that pertains to us. Nuthin’— even with all their years of parental wisdom and life experiences. We don’t even trust them to give us any advice unless, of course, we are desperate enough to actually ask for it. And even then, if their parental advice doesn’t line up and affirm what we want to do, it’s “Thanks, but no thanks.”
We certainly don’t trust our employer enough to give them authority over our lives. If we don’t like what our employer does, or says, or thinks, or the hours they schedule for us to work, or the salary they agree to pay us for that work, or our vacation and retirement package— we defiantly punch the clock, flip-off the boss and shout, “Nobody’s gonna treat me like that. I quit!” And it’s back to the want ads again.
And as far as trusting the government goes, well, I really don’t think we need to run that trail right now, do you?
Bottom line: You and I both know that there’s no way we would ever give anyone absolute power over our lives. Never! It’s simply not going to happen and it’s not in our nature.
Servant or Slave?
But one of the amazing truths in the Scriptures for me is the fact that the word slave, or doulos in the Greek, is exactly what the heroes of the Bible call themselves.
The Kunta Kinte of the New Testament.
You have Paul (Rom. 1:1), Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and Jude all calling themselves slaves of Jesus Christ. Just like in Roots.
Only there was a difference.
In Roots, free people were forcibly and violently taken from their homes and made into slaves against their will. In Jude and elsewhere in the New Testament, free people voluntarily gave up their freedom and independence and self-will to become life-long slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. And they did this gladly and with great, abounding joy.
This is what it means to be a doulos of the Lord.
The Blessings of Slavery
The word slave, doulos, means: “one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of another.” Note some key words: permanent, servitude, consumed, and another. Jude was saying he was in a permanent relationship of servitude (slavery) to another (Jesus) and his will was consumed in the will of another (Jesus).”
It’s the very example Jesus gave us of His relationship with His Father.
John 4:34 – “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
John 5:19 – “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”
John 6:38 – I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
John 8:28 – “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.”
So what about you? Is your will totally consumed in the will of the Lord? Are you enjoying your position as a slave, a doulos, of Him and do you recognize it as the greatest honor ever bestowed on you? Have you relinquished all control over your life today and your future tomorrow into the hands of the One who knows the number of hairs on your head? Have you submitted your entire life to Him knowing that He cares deeply for you, even more than you can imagine?
Are you a doulos, a slave of the Lord Jesus? And, if so, do you wear your badge of permanent servitude with pride?
Consider again how the saints of old described themselves and pray to do likewise. Why? Because you have been bought with a price and are now His special possession (1 Cor. 7:23).
So relax, abide, and enjoy the blessings of slavery to Him.
Seven Minutes and Eleven Seconds of Coolness
Shipwrecked Faith from a Shipwrecked Church
Reflections on the book of Jude
Seven Minutes and Eleven Seconds of Coolness
“Na, na, na, na… na, na, na, na…na, na, na, na, hey Jude”
The Beatles, Hey Jude
When I was a kid, I was a big music fan.
I loved it. I identified with it. I listened to it all the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the kind of music fans that we have today. I never walked around the mall with headphones sticking out of my beanie in mid-July with this glazed-over, brain-dead, “Dude, where’s my car?” kind of blank stare on my face. And I’ve never broken into an air-guitar solo while jamming on my iPod in the Household aisle of Wal-Mart— looking more like a dying fish flopping around on a dry dock than a music lover.
No, when I was a teenager, the people who loved music collected music. They talked about music, they shared music— they were consumed with music. Music became our release, a catharsis, a way for us to communicate with, and make sense of, a very confusing world.
Music was much more than just entertainment.
For us, music made a statement— our statement. It was the chosen vehicle of our generation to collectively make our voices heard. It shaped our feelings, values and emotions. We allowed our music to define our morals and our politics and to determine, for us, the very nature of our cultural struggle.
Music was more to us than a song about such deep and moving social themes as, “My humps, my humps, My lovely lady lumps.”
But not all music was equal.
In the crowd I ran with, my peers, there was a definite pecking order in music styles and tastes— and no deviations were ever allowed.
Simply put, to be cool, to be in the “know” with my friends, you had to be into the Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. The Fab Four. The Mop Tops. Sergeant Pepper and the Lonely Heart’s Club Band. Our guides on the Magical Mystery Tour.
They were our answer to crew cuts, parental authority, puberty, and the Vietnam War.
If you were into the Beatles, you were super cool, admired, popular, and accepted. You were on the “A” list of people to know and to be seen with. If, on the other hand, you owned vinyl from the likes of the Beach Boys, the Four Seasons or the Hollies— well, you were ugly, had bad breath and would someday grow up to work at McDonalds.
Well, after all, the Beatles were cool.
We watched them evolve, album after album, from four young men from Liverpool, with their strange “Moe of the Three Stooges” type hair cuts to living icons of our culture and heroes of our generation. We saw them embrace and experience life in ways we never could, and then we eagerly listened as they told us about those experiences in the songs they wrote. They were the proverbial Pied Pipers and we, it seemed, were just a bunch of willing mice.
Whatever they were into, we were into. They set the standards for our young lives.
As their sweet, boyish, innocence faded with time— so did ours.
We were with them when they seemed to find such joy in the simple things of life— like having a girlfriend, or the thrill of singing, “I wanna hold your hand.” And, years later, we were still with them when their lyrics became darker and more sinister:
Yellow matter custard
Dripping from a dead dog’s eye
Boy, you’ve been a naughty girl
you let your knickers down
I am the eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob
Looks like somebody was on drugs. And it wasn’t me.
They, like everything else in the 60’s, changed right before our eyes. What started out as good, clean fun soon digressed into Eastern mysticism, LSD and, in 1966, crystallized with the infamous, and quite stupid, quote by John Lennon:
“Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that. I’m right and will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus.”
Living in the Bible belt, you can imagine what happened.
Preachers began to rant and wail, Sunday after Sunday, about the evils of these four young men from the abyss and the very doom they would bring to the purity of our young people. Some called them agents of Satan, playing the Devil’s music. I remember some preachers even called them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
There was a swell, a grass-roots church movement of sorts to burn all our Beatle records because, as the preachers would say, “Jee-zus will not take second place to a bunch of long haired hippies!” True.
But personally, I resisted the urge to burn my records and foolishly dump years of allowances down the drain because some preacher told me I needed to. Who were they to tell me what to do? It wasn’t even Sunday. Plus, I figured if Jesus was God, He could pretty much take care of Himself.
A couple of years later even Charles Manson, during his trial for the Tate and LaBianca murders, prophesied about the coming race wars, the Helter Skelter as he called it, and claimed the Beatles, as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, spoke to him secretly through their music. Charlie claimed to be Christ and said the song, “Revolution 9” was his call to arms to end the world.
Really? Pretty stupid sounding stuff, even for a teenager.
All Charlie got for his troubles were multiple life terms in an 8 x 12 cell and a swastika carved in the center of his forehead— and a crude looking swastika at that. It looked like he carved it himself, left-handed, with a Bic pen, — while driving in rush hour traffic.
So much for the Manson family and the coming Helter Skelter.
The Pre-iPod Era
Back then, way before iPods and music downloads and iTunes, you had to buy the Beatles albums, like “Abbey Road” or “Let it Be” just to be able to hear the songs you liked. But to do this, you’d also have to shell out seven or eight bucks— which was a whole lotta jack back then. Especially when we would have to mow, that’s push mow, our neighbors’ football field size yard all Saturday afternoon for about $2.50.
So relatively speaking, Beatle albums were a major investment. Several Saturdays worth of work for 13, three-minute songs— nine of which you didn’t even want.
So most of us just collected 45’s. Do you remember them?
A 45 record was a simple, seven-inch, single, vinyl disk with the song we wanted on one side and a lame, utterly forgettable tune on the other. It was like the record company put the best and the worst songs on the album on the 45’s to cover both extremes, I guess. It was like they were saying, “If you turn the 45 over, you can rest assured that no song on this $8 album we want you to buy will sound any worse than what you’re listening to right now. So, buy with confidence.”
It was also like the artist really didn’t care about side B of the 45’s either. All they wanted was another hit off their bongs.
For example, and this is true, when I purchased the 45 of “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner, that’s before Ike took batting practice on Tina’s face and she dumped him for a solo life and a solo career— the song on the other side was the classic, “Funkier Than a Mosquito’s Tweeter.” No lie. That was the name. I think I listened to half the song, one time.
Anyway, my prized possession during the fall of 1968 was the vinyl 45 from Apple Records, the one with the big, green apple picture on the front that was the recording of the greatest of all Beatle songs, Hey Jude. It was great. Amazing.
For me, it represented the pinnacle of their career.
And that particular song was different from all the others they had previously released. How?
First, it was not recorded on any album that was released that year by the Beatles. That fact alone made the song something of a novelty. Game show trivia sort of stuff. And second, it was long. Really long.
Seven minutes and eleven seconds long.
By radio play standards, it was as long as two Three Dog Night songs and a radio spot about a car dealership. And the Beatles, at this point in their musical life, simply refused to cut it down for radio play. It was kinda their way to “stick it to the man.” Whoever the “man” was.
Billy Joel, years later, sang about the same problem in his song, The Entertainer:
It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long
If you’re gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05
But, Hey, Jude— wow, seven minutes and eleven seconds long! Incredible.
Just sticking it to the man.
And, if you listen to that song today, there’s about four minutes of just, “na, na, na…” junk in the end. It’s not like there were any profound lyrics that communicated the meaning of life, the virtues of love or told us where the lost city of Atlantis was located. It’s just, “na, na, na…” kind of stuff.
I listened to that song, day in and day out, until the needle on my record player grew dull. In 1968, it was this one song that set me apart from all my other friends. It was my own way to “stick it to the man.”
None of my friends liked the song— it was too long, not enough Zeppelin style guitar, it was impossible to dance to and you couldn’t even buy the album with the song on it in the record store.
“Like, what’s with that?”
But for me, ah— it was the song that made me cool in my own eyes.
I memorized every nuance of the song, all seven minutes and change of it. I knew, as Jesus would say, every “jot and tittle” of the song. And I mean I memorized everything! It was almost like I had written the song along with John and Paul.
I knew every, “yeah, yeah” in the background or the “Jude, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, Judy, ow, wahow!” stuff towards the end. When I was with my friends and the song would play on the radio, we would all sing together the first part and, as they dropped out one by one because they didn’t know the last four minutes of the song, I would sing louder and louder, proud, center stage, until it was just me and Paul “na, na, na-ing” along together.
I know it sounds strange, but I felt empowered, like maybe Paul McCartney and I were close, personal friends, like maybe we were somehow connected by this song, like maybe some of his coolness rubbed off on me because I could sing the “na, na’s” like he did.
I don’t know… it just felt like it made me matter to someone. Like we were kin or something.
Like… well, whatever.
Why am I telling you all this? Simple.
That was the first time in my life that I had ever heard the name Jude— way back when in 1968. In fact, that song made the name Jude cool to me, important, something that made my insides feel good and the corner of my mouth turn up when I said the name.
I like the way that name sounded.
Coming next – Introduction: On the Backside of the Bible