Scenes from the past stroll across my memory as I hear the words “fire prevention.” Fire Prevention Week at school brought lessons about fire and its destructive force. Really neat, plastic helmets, “just like the ones firemen wear” adorned the heads of school children. Plastic badges and the title “Jr. Fire Marshall’ were bestowed upon those who passed the quizzes on fire safety. Through the cooperation of teachers, parents and community members, impressionable young minds were molded toward careful use of fire. Only God knows the number of injuries and deaths that were prevented by the patient, wise instruction given and reinforced during those weeks.
God also knows the power of sin and worldliness. Knowing those things and the individual’s free will, he has given instructions for Christians in order to prevent them from falling away and being overtaken by sin. My thoughts turn to the last few books of the New Testament. There I find 1 John and Jude. While not the only books containing preventative material, these are two that quickly come to mind for me.
In 1 John 2:1, John writes, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” Some of “these things” include our fellowship with God (1:7); our need for brotherly love (2:10); our need to abide in God (3:6); our need to watch for false prophets (4:1); and our assurance of eternal life (5:13). This advice molds us in order to prevent our falling way.
In a similar way, Jude encourages Christians to “contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints ” (Jude 3) In writing this brief epistle, Jude points out the conditions that give rise to false teachers (rebellious attitudes, Jude 6-7); the character of the false teachers (blasphemous, greedy, shameful, etc., 8-13); the consequences of the teachers’ actions (destruction 14-17).
Jude aptly sums up the essence of prevention: “. . . keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 21)