"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ." NIV translation
We are introduced to the author here and the way he introduces himself has a great lesson in it. You see, he was the brother of Jesus and so he would have grown up in the same house with him yet that is not how Jude introduces himself. Instead, he introduces himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ". To be more precise, he is a bondslave which has a deeper meaning. A bondslave is one whose sole purpose is to carry out the will of his master. He is bound until death; where other servants could be bought/sold a bondslave could not. A bondslave has only the will of the master in mind and does not even belong to himself or have any rights. That is hard for us to imagine today where it seems that all we hear about is some new kind of right.
This letter is addressed to those that are called, loved, and kept. Called is not talking about the way it is when we call our children as they may or may not obey at any given time. Instead this refers to an invitation that has been accepted and brought to life through the Spirit of God. When we are called, we are set apart in God's heart; we are His children and He is our Father. The word "kept" is talking about the act of preserving something as you would preserve food so that it will not spoil. This preserving of food is usually done in two ways, either through the use of vinegar or through the use of sugar. Sugar is sweet and that is the message of God and His love for us. His love for us, demonstrated in Jesus dying on the cross, has preserved us from death and decay. (A message that we all like to hear.) Vinegar is sour and many times our father must correct us (through the Holy Spirit) to get us back into line with His will. This being kept refers to being preserved for Christ and in Christ. Jesus is the One that keeps us from death (in Him and not spoiling) and He is also the purpose that we are preserved (to serve Him). We are called to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The saved part is easy and sweet while the part of allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives (master of the bondslave) is not as easy as it goes against our will (flesh) and that's the sour part.