Summary: 1) Our duties as Christians (Titus 3: 1–2), 2) Our former condition of unbelief and sin (Titus 3: 3), 3) Our salvation through Jesus Christ (Titus 3: 4–7), and 4) Our mission to an unbelieving, lost world (Titus 3: 8).
This week, Ray Pennings co-founder and executive vice-president of the think tank Cardus. wrote about how faith plays a big role in how Canadians see the world. A majority of respondents — 52 per cent — told the pollster that personal faith or religious beliefs were an important factor in how they thought “about public issues and problems facing society.” Fully two-thirds of the religiously committed prioritized helping others. Asked whether “rich people” should enjoy spending their money as they wished or should share the wealth with the less fortunate. Almost 70 per cent of the religiously committed said that those with wealth had a responsibility to share it. Only 54 per cent of non-believers said the same. Religious faith has a role to play in Canada’s public life. It’s key to personal identity for most of us and helps us to make sense of the world. It doesn’t push us to the extremes. It impels us to care for others. That’s worth thinking about when we consider the next 150 years of Canadian society. (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/religion/canada-is-not-the-secular-society-that-we-thought-it-was)
In Titus 3, the Apostle Paul moves from how believers are to live in the church (chapter 2) to how they are to live in society. The section opens with a collection of commands concerned especially with the relations of believers to outsiders. It deals specifically with subjection to the civil authorities, positive good works, avoiding contention with other people, and showing gentleness and courtesy to people in general. Similar teaching on the believers’ relation to society is found in 1 Tim 2:1–2; Rom 13:1–7; 1 Pet 2:13–3:17. The passage is analogous to Rom 12:17–13:7, but there is more stress here on meekness and gentleness. The qualities required here stand in contrast to the life style of the writer’s opponents (Marshall, I. H., & Towner, P. H. (2004). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (p. 298). London; New York: T&T Clark International.).
Paul obviously was consumed with the divine mandate to evangelize when he wrote this letter to Titus. It was not his desire for Christians living in the pagan culture of Crete to turn on the unbelievers and try to force changes in cultural standards and personal behavior in order to be less offended by their society. But we must repudiate our confused loyalties and concerns for the passing world and put aside our misguided efforts to change culture externally. To allow our thoughts, plans, time, money, and energy to be spent trying to make a superficially Christian country, or to put a veneer of morality over the world, is to distort the gospel, misconstrue our divine calling, and squander our God-given resources. We must not weaken our spiritual mission, obscure our priority of proclaiming the gospel of salvation, or become confused about our spiritual citizenship, loyalties, and obligations. We are to change society, but by faithfully proclaiming the gospel, which changes lives on the inside.