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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

freedom.

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

order.

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

work.

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.

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