Wednesday, May 09, 2007

We too were: foolish, disobedient, decieved, and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures; malicious and envious, hated and hateful...

Titus is a Cretan, and as the philospher/poet/prophet Epimenides crassly crooned: "Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons." Paul quotes this Cretan lyricist and follows it up with: "He has surely told the truth!" Titus must have a sordid past of sorts, yet here he is, the receipient of a personal letter from the famed Apostle Paul. He's now the head elder of a church, overseeing a whole island of believers. Titus has come a long way, baby! Titus is now trustworthy, a one-woman man, a strong and respected father, an all-around good guy.

But what prompted the transformation? How do people change? For Titus, it was like this: "But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus was once a foolish, disobedient, deceived, etc. kind of man; now he is a foolish, disobedient, deceived, etc. kind of man who is saved by God's kindness, love and mercy.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that God has been doing Titus-work in us. We all are like Titus the Cretan in some way...we may not have all those vices attached to our identity, but one or two can be stenchy enough. And we all can be like Titus the Cretan - the Jesus-follower, who lives with and loves his fellow Cretans who are not yet following Jesus. Because of who Titus was, he can be Jesus with the Cretans as they are now. But having spent some time with Titus and the Jesus he follows, these brutish Cretans can become devoted to good and God as a blessing to their world.

How? Well for Titus, he experienced God through the hands and heart of men and women, a community that lived out God's kindness, love and generous mercy. And now Titus is raising up a family, heading up a church community, overseeing an island of disciples who do good, who are sober, honest, diligent, hospitable, delightful, disciplined, faithful, forgiving, reconciling, redeeming, etc. At some point hated and hateful people come into regular contact with loved and loving people. How do the hated and hateful become the loved and loving? By God's work through God's workers.

Right now, who are people that irk you greatly because of their subtle (or blatant) character flaws/sins? Now - consider that God has you in their life for a redemptive reason. Now - listen regularly for how God might want to use you to do Titus-work in their life. Of course you are not sure what to do, where to start, etc. That's why you have to listen to what God wants you to do everyday. You listen to him (and do what he prompts you to do/say) and he'll do beautiful redemption work through you.

As Paul writes to Titus and friends: "Grace be with you all". You'll need it, and so do they...

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