Lisa Sheffler, author
There is nothing better than the gospel. We’ve been pondering some challenging issues over the last few weeks as we consider how to live as dual citizens of heaven and earth. And current events haven’t let up in their gravity or intensity, or in some people’s desire to use them to spark fear, panic, and rage. Yet as Christians, we know we should lift our eyes beyond the divisions and disagreements to the Savior King who reigns eternally.
Today, rejoice in what God has done for you through Jesus because that’s what it’s all about. Come what may, we have Jesus. He is our guide in all things – including politics!
Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)
3 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. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.
What happened when the “kindness and love of God our Savior appeared”? What has changed?
It’s not easy to resist the pull of your culture, and that’s especially true today. In a strong and rapidly moving river, it’s hard to plant your feet. In Titus 3:3–8, Paul is not only giving the Christians of Crete instructions on the way they should be living, but explaining how it is possible to live out the way of Jesus.
The gospel changes everything. It makes what was impossible, possible. Its source is the kindness and love of God. God’s grace reaches out to us in our rebellion and breaks the enslaving chains of deception and addiction. It frees us to discover what it really means to be humans created in God’s image. Sin not only distorts our individual identity, it corrupts our relationships, infiltrating them with suspicion, envy and hatred. This was not who God created us to be or how he wants us to live.
In order to live differently, we need more than a set of moral laws to follow. It’s not a question of knowledge. You can’t teach a flightless creature to fly — you’d have to give them wings. They must be transformed. Likewise, we need the rebirth and renewal that only the Spirit can bring. In Christ we are given the Holy Spirit, who is poured out on us — generously. God is not stingy. He gives us what we need to live for him. We are new creatures in Christ and even our lineage has changed. We are heirs of God, children of the King, and citizens of his kingdom. In Christ, a brand new identity has been graciously given to us. And he has done this, not because we’re worthy, but because we’re loved.
Our salvation not only transforms us, it can transform our communities. The outward expression of changed lives should be a devotion to doing good. We look to Jesus as our example and treat people as he did — with love, compassion, and respect. We choose forgiveness over vengeance and justice over exploitation. In all kinds of ways, we do what will make the lives of those around us better. We do good.
Isn’t the news that these changes are possible in Christ worth sharing? We don’t have to be carried along by the cultural current into the turbulent waters of fear, hopelessness, bitterness, despair, or rage. We can put our feet down and stand on the promises of God in Christ. Our life’s mission doesn’t have to be an endless quest for peace, security, or fulfillment, because those are already ours in Christ. Our faith doesn’t have to be in governments or institutions that will sometimes fail us, because our ultimate faith is in the One who never fails. Day by day, we can focus on loving Jesus and loving people. No worry. No fear.
Take a moment and rest in the gospel message. Spend time with the Father, and find the peace and grace you need for today in what Paul has said here. Know that you are loved, and that the Spirit is with you. Take all your concerns and fears to Jesus and leave them at the cross. Ask him to give you a better vision for doing good that flows from the kindness and love of God your Savior.