Summary: Christians are to be admired because they add order, and in so doing add beauty and harmony to the church and the state, and every other group they belong to.
Paul Aurandt tells of how even the disorders of life can
sometimes be a blessing. Only hours after Pearl Harbor the
Japanese went after the Philippine Islands. American and
Philippine troops were taken by surprise and had to retreat to the
Bataan Peninsula. These brave troops became famous for their
delay of the Japanese. For 98 days they fought against the
impossible odds before they surrendered. But this delay gave
America the time it needed to organize the defense of Australia and
other vital areas.
The paradox of it all is that it was all made possible by a mistake.
General Mac Arthur's quartermaster ordered 18 thousand empty oil
drums, but someone fouled up the order and sent them filled with
gasoline. This was a million gallons of unwanted fuel sent to the
Peninsula of Bataan. It was this fuel that made it possible for them
to hold out for 98 days, and thereby change the course of history for
God is not limited to working only with order. He can bring
light out of darkness and harmony out of discord. He can bring
order out of chaos. This is, in fact, one of God's specialties, but
there is no escaping the truth that God's preference is for order.
You can't count on disorder. There is no disorder in God's being,
nor is there any in His revealed description of the ideal destiny of the
universe, or the eternal home of the redeemed. Perfect order and
beauty with complete symmetry and harmony is what will be
everlasting. Order means beauty, and order means health,
happiness, holiness, and all that is good has a direct connection with
This becomes the ideal we are to work for in all that we do for
the glory of God. This was Paul's purpose for the church in Crete,
and this was the task of Titus to organize the church and bring
order where there was chaos and discord. According to this letter
all Christians have an obligation to get their lives in order. This
would lead to order in the church, in the home, and in the state as
well. It all begins with Titus who had a unique gift for
organization. Some people just have it and others do not. Paul says
in verse 5 that he left Titus in Crete for the purpose of straightening
out what was left unfinished. Paul is saying that he left the work
there incomplete. Even under the Apostle Paul a church did not
spring quickly to a state of perfection. Paul left a lot of loose ends
and he needed the help of a gifted man like Titus to complete the
The Cretans were a messed up people, but the Gospel is that any
mess can be straightened out by the grace of God, and order can be
brought out of chaos. That is why Paul did not give up on these who
were, humanly speaking, hopeless people. He knew it was the sick
who needed the physician, and the messed up who needed the
organizer. It is superficial to think that because people are saved
that the battle is over, and that there is nothing much left to do. The
fact is, the biggest battle may come after conversion. People may
gladly accept the Gospel as the good news, and rejoice in having a
Savior, but the hard part is in getting their lives organized so as to
conform to Christ.
Calvin said, "The building of the church is not a work so easy
that it can be brought all at once to perfection." Even where Paul
spent several years the work was not completed, so how much more
so here in Crete? The goal however is to get to that point where
order dominates the church. Paul had a great deal of optimism
about the power of order to make Christian lives and churches the
witness for Christ they were meant to be. Only once in this letter
does Paul refer to the work of the Holy Spirit. In chapter 3 verse 5
he refers to the rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. But all
through the rest of this letter he dwells on the human responsibility
to bring order into their lives and the church. This leads us to the
first point about order that we want to focus on.
I. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ORDER.
This letter of Paul makes it clear that the church is a human
organization, and men are responsible for working out the bugs and
bringing it to a place where all is done decently and in order. The
reason Paul left Titus in Crete was because without a human agent
the job of straitening out what was unfinished would not get done.
Maybe some told Paul to just pray about it, which we know he did.