Today we continued our sermon series on Titus. This one was the easiest of the series but still a difficult sermon to preach. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment!
Oh goodie! another sermon with a warning. This is once again not a good or comfortable text to use. If it were up to me I probably wouldn’t preach this, it will probably offend you and it will probably make some of you a little uncomfortable. I promise I am going to do my best to keep strictly to the text. we are going to pray and jump in.
Read Titus 1:10-16
Titus is one of Paul’s pastors, he was appointed to serve on the island of Crete and so he has been dropped in and Paul is trying to give Titus some advice as he does ministry.
See, all ministry is done in context. As a pastor, or a leader, or a Christian trying to lead others in the workplace. There is always a context and there are various ways to deal with them.
Titus’ Context looks like this:
1. Fake Christians: They say they are believers but they are teaching doctrine that is false. They were teaching new christians that the only way to be truly saved was to follow all the Jewish traditions as well. That in order to be saved they must follow the 613 Old Testament Commands, make the appropriate sacrifices, and know all the intricacies of theology. Today we might say that these people were teaching that to be saved you must have a working understanding of dispensation atonement, chair 3 committees, and be able to recite the pre-amble of the United Methodist Book of Discipline. Or we might just say that they treat anyone who had different political opinions differently and look down on those without as much money or who don’t give as much.
- Paul says these people should be silenced. They should not be allowed to speak or be in charge of anything. One translation says they must be “muzzled”
- Paul doesn’t say kick them out but essentially give them a short leash and don’t put them in charge.
2. The Cretans: These are the people of Crete who don’t know anything about proper behavior, they are liars, lazy, gluttons, wild beasts. They will stab you in the back and steal your wallet because they are bored. The Cretans were known throughout the Greek empire as people who were simply horrible people. To be associated with them was to be a social pariah. These are people who have no idea who Jesus is or why any of the this Jesus stuff matters in day-to-day life.
- Paul says Correct them so they may have a healthy faith.
- In other words, teach them anyway.
- Teach them the true Gospel so that they may know eternity.
- Don’t be surprised if they hurt you, Don’t be upset if they don’t get it. Just be faithful to the calling you have as a follower of Jesus.
3. The Unclean: These are people who claim to know God. They have a great head knowledge, but their actions do not follow suit. Again we come back to the actions of people being very important in the life of a believer.
- These people are detestable because they claim a head knowledge to know God but their actions do not fit what they say they believe
- These people are disobedient they know what God expects from them and they flat-out refuse to do it. It is one thing to be like the Cretans and not know and not do but these people know and refuse to do.
- These people are disqualified from doing anything. In other words, in the life of the church they are completely useless. They might as well not even attend church, of course we won’t kick them out but they do not add anything of value to the life of the church.
- Paul says these people are completely disqualified from serving God.
This is the context Titus finds himself in. This is the box in which Titus has been put in and is expected to ministry.
Every leaders finds themselves surrounded by these same people. Every leader finds themselves in this context and in this box at some point.
And every leader finds themselves on one of these sides at some point in ministry.
So what do we do? As leaders, chair people, nursery workers, sunday school teachers, how do we deal with these people?
Well the fakes get silence, the Cretans get taught, and the unclean get disqualified.
I think, if we are honest, there are times we all have a little of each one of these inside of us. Where we all act like the unclean, or the Cretan, or the Fake Christian. I know there are certainly times where I have fallen into these categories.
So what do we do with those feelings of inadequacy. We know we shouldn’t be a fake christian but it is so much easier to follow religion than it is to follow Jesus. We know we shouldn’t stab people in the back but sometimes we just have to get our way no matter the consequences.
So what do we do? Our scripture gives very good tips for leaders in the church on how to handle these kinds of people, but what if we are those kinds of people?
Well, let me say this: If you are a Christian, you are called to be a leader. You have leadership responsibilities. Those tips for leaders are for everyone who calls themselves a Christian.
- If you are being a fake christian, stop talking. Just shut your mouth and be muzzled. The word Paul uses in the Greek gives this idea of not just shutting your mouth but putting your hand over your mouth and not letting a sound come out.
- If you find yourself, intentionally or unintentionally, hurting other people stop it. Ask forgiveness and start learning the correct way to treat people.
- If you find yourself as the unclean and you are refusing to do what you know God requires of you. Start doing it. Stop making excuses, start putting your head knowledge into practice.
That’s the thing, if you are a Christian you are a leader. Christians are called to lead other people and we are all called to lead ourselves.
It is very easy for Christians to lead from one of these sides and pretend that is the best side and the only way to lead.
The problem is it is impotent leadership. You know, the kind of leadership that doesn’t produce anything beneficial and is essentially shooting blanks because nothing is every going to happen.
True leadership comes from what is behind me. The cross. Jesus is where true leadership is found. Jesus say if you want to lead, get down and serve. Jesus says the least will be the best and that if we truly want to be a leader then we must deny ourselves pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
Jesus screams out father forgive the fakes, the Cretans, and the unclean. They don’t know what they are doing.
Maybe you are here today and you are a fake, you are unclean, you are a Cretan. You can always come to real leadership.
So then, may you lead others, and may you lead yourself and when you find yourself in one of these categories, may you stop digging and start leading the way God has called us all to lead.
Close in Prayer