Monday, December 9, 2013
Scratching the Surface of Titus
Titus is one of Paul's shorter letters; but like his shortest that's next (Philemon) or any of the other/smaller books in the book, it's the message not number of pages that matters most.
Parenthetically, there's nothing "minor" in the messages of the so-called "Minor Prophets" of the Bible; for "minor" just refers to the fewer pages in 'em compared to the greater number of pages in the so-called "Major Prophets."
Truly, the shorter/smaller books wouldn't be in the book with the longer/bigger books if God had not breathed revelation about who He is and what it means to follow Him into them.
Let me put it another way.
It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters most. It's the size of the fight in the dog that matters most.
Titus, like all of the shorter/smaller books in the book, packs a King-sized wallop of revelation regarding what it means to follow Who it's all about.
The focus of God through Paul to Titus - another undershepherd of the Good Shepherd Jesus being mentored by the apostle; hence referred to as "my true child in common faith" - is Christian leadership; specifically, the expected character traits of women and men called to honor God through service in His body known as the Church.
While Paul repeats many of the character traits of Christian leaders found in his other letters, with the two to Timothy being the most expansive, his commanding counsel to Titus is poignantly precise: "...the husband of one wife...his children are believers...above reproach...not arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain...hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined...He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it..."
After providing some special instructions for special situations, he gets back to the general job description for authentic Church leaders: "Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority...Remind them to be submissive to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, to show perfect courtesy toward all people..."
Then Paul throws the haymaker, "I want you to insist on these things."
"But," he concludes as a footnote of contradiction in reference to what's not in the job description, "Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless..."
Then he offers something of an afterthought taking us back to Romans 16, "As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."
If we take all of that literally and out of context, no one but Jesus Himself qualifies for Church leadership.
That's why Paul must have meant a Christian leader must pray and labor to emulate those qualities and not be notoriously suspect in behaviors that are antithetical to 'em.
Remember, Paul wrote, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
That means nobody's perfect.
That means nobody ever becomes good enough to not need Jesus to save them from their sins by bridging the distance between human frailties/failings/fallings and divine perfection.
To use a phrase that is eternally more true than existentially tried, we do our best and leave the rest to Him.
Or as Paul often concludes, "Grace be with you all!"
Let me put it another way.
Being a follower of Jesus or mentoring followers of Jesus is not about how good we are or can become.
It's about His great graciousness that only demands our trust and confidence in Him as Lord and Savior and our efforts to prove our trust and confidence in Him as Lord and Savior.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!