Hollywood loves getting it wrong. The more I see of movies about angels or demons or the “supernatural” the more I see just why serious theological wisdom is absolutely vital to clear thinking and wise living.
It seems every time a movie about these subjects comes out everything is flat and mundane and lacking any mystery at all. Hell and heaven are created in the image of man instead of the much more profound image of God. I guess the latter isn’t commercially viable. Oh well.
Look at our Lesson today in Jude 1:1-10:
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Master and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now I desire to remind you, though you were once for all fully informed, that the Lord saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals, they are destroyed.
There are some very important insights here on how angels and men fall. In fact, if we grasp these insights, we will not only learn how to fast but how to live as Christians our whole lives. Big claim, to be sure, so let’s see if I can pull this off.
Look at how St. Jude describes the fall of angels:
- They “did not keep” their position
- They “left their proper dwelling”
- They “have been kept” in eternal chains!
It seems the fall of angels has everything to do with a self-inflicted wound and all the consequences of their fall are directly related to their own choices! The angels failed to value what they had rather than the temptation of what they “could” have. They departed their privileged place for the siren’s song of delusion. And the end result is, for their own good and for the good of all creation, the Lord of love limited the caustic fallout of their selfishness by imprisoning them in chains to limit the damage of their folly! Amazing love God has even for His “enemies,” don’t you think?
Then Jude says that men, imitating the fallen angels, make the same mistakes! And the proof of their imitation of the wrong example is seen in “dreamings.” Isn’t that powerful? Our fantasy lives reveal our deepest spiritual illnesses! But it’s also seen in men rejecting authority and a quickness in dismissing those who have such authority. In other words, their lack of humility feeds their ruined lives!
St. Jude uses the powerful story of St. Michael, the Archangel and his dispute with the devil. St. Michael didn’t resort to name calling or a laundry list of all of Satan’s faults or mistakes. In his humility St. Michael refused to even denigrate the devil. He simply said, “The Lord rebuke you.” And that was enough for St. Michael to prevail in his dispute and defeat the evil one.
Today, do you “revile whatever” you don’t understand? Do you find your life destroyed by following instincts undisciplined by the wisdom of faith? If so, your life is following a very familiar and ancient pattern to destruction. But there’s hope! Turn from this foolish way of life and return to your intended purpose by embracing the way of life that imitates wisdom and not self-destruction. Be Orthodox on Purpose!