Summary: A short sermon challenging us to think about what it means for us to be model Christian citizens, responding to the generosity of God.
Titus 3: 1-7
These seven verses contain a beautiful summary of the Gospel, the Good News of the Lord Jesus. They also contain a simple summary of what it means to be a model Christian citizen in a non Christian society.
It now seems true to say that the UK is no longer a Christian country. We live in a post-Christian country, and St. Paul’s words are very relevant to our life and witness today. Throughout his letter to Titus, St. Paul urges him to stand firm in teaching and reminding the Church. Paul says this to Titus: “Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you” (2:15).
At secondary school children are now taught citizenship; how should we behave towards one another and towards the world we live in. What does it mean to be a good citizen? On Sunday 12 November three 13 year old boys knocked on the door of our house.
One of them said, “I’m really very sorry. I’ve just broken a small window at the Church with my football.” Another one said, “We thought it was best to come and tell you rather than just go home and pretend we didn’t do it.” The first lad said, “I’ll be happy to pay for the damage.” I later had a telephone conversation with the mother of the boy who kicked the ball and I told her she can be very proud of her son, because he did exactly as he had been taught. He did the right thing!
Titus is asked to remind the Church to do what they have been taught; (3: 1-2) to do the right things! It’s true that the Church must be a home for recovering sinners, but it is also true that we must learn to do what is right; to be model citizens: “to do whatever is good, to slander no-one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility towards all” (3:2); and each of these words is active. We are to be active and passionate – not passive and apathetic.
Just as those three lads appeared on my doorstep, we are called to be active in our speaking and passionate in being ready to do whatever is good.
Christian citizenship includes choosing our words carefully, being deliberate and thoughtful in doing the right thing, and even being strategic by making plans to do what is good.
St. Paul then moves on to this beautiful summary of the Gospel, and these words serve to remind us of our journey away from sin, the mercy of the Lord Jesus, and the hope which we have for the rest of our lives and for all eternity.
Paul writes to Titus: “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (3:3). We are all coming from somewhere, saved from something.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (3:4-5), “…through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (3:6). “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously” (3:5-6). The external water of baptism and the internal renewal of the Holy Spirit cause us to become devoted “to doing what is good” (3:8). Isn’t it wonderful that the very Spirit of Jesus (God’s Holy Spirit) has been poured out generously upon us! It is the same Spirit who fills us, teaches us and leads us do what is right, to do what is good, to be active and passionate in responding to the mercy of God.