Thursday, April 21, 2011

Paul and Titus-a shared apo journey

There seems to be little doubt among most theologians that Paul was the author and that Titus was one of his proteges. Paul was one remarkable man. He was passionate and rugged, tough and tender, intentional and Spirit-led. He was so focussed "This one thing" yet would not let his call be a one generational legacy "And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also". He multiplied himself in these young studs. These statements [like 1 Cor 4:15 - 17, ] are either boldly humble or significantly arrogant. He invested himself in these "sons" to ensure he would not simply be a one generational wonder.

This is a leadership legacy book. It is a book of trust. I can read between the lines as Paul energizes this young "son" of his by saying ": 'This is your first assignment — go do it. I believe in you. I see the hand of the Father is on you. The call to 'apostle' is on you. I am here if you need me, but it is your time. It is your turn to pick up the apo baton. Now go and get the job done!" I am sure that Titus must have felt somewhat inept. Representing Jesus was massive. Being trusted by Paul as his ambassador was weighty. To be given such a mandate was simply outrageous. The moments of self doubt must have pervaded his mind. The voice of the great liar, discourager and deceiver must have worked his own uncertainty. But he had a task to fulfill and he had just received his marching orders.

I love Paul's introduction. Titus knew him. Yet he is still quite intentional about defining his voice in this epistle. It could have been that his introduction was culturally necessary. That may be true. It may be that was Paul's style that he repeated often or it may be that he was expecting the letter to be read to the whole community, so he endorsed and validated Titus before the church, as he reminded all of his apo role in both Titus' life as well as in Crete.

" Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ..." May I suggest that he collides these two images of his call to ensure that no-one tries to make him 'king' for there is only one king and that his name is Jesus. Oh that the next generation is captivated to be true passionate yet free servants of God! These next leaders are not to be driven by wild ambition of self promotion, nor see themselves in the glitz and glamour world of name recognition. Surely, I hear Paul say: "is there a higher call than to be a servant of the lover of our soul, the one with whom we will share eternity?" Both are positions of humble obedience and not titles of superiority. As servant, we are reminded that he is "bought, owned and directed by God" [John Stott]. Paul frames his task with the gospel. He is reminding the reader that the only role he has, is because " you are not your own for you were bought with a price." 1 Cor 6:19 - 20. Unless a leader grasps that, he will never stand in the full wonder of grace nor be amazed at the kindness of God's election, calling us to a journey - " For we are God workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do" Eph 2:10.

"...An apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ" This ascension grace gift cannot be earned, trained to become one or inherited. As Michael Eaton says: "Apostles fall from the sky" meaning one can only be an apostle when Christ appoints, anoints and authorizes a person to that end. Paul has no greater credential than what Christ gives him. But then he speedily adds to what end: "for the faith of God's elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness..." . So he is an apostle for the church and for the sake of truth. Can you hear him say between the lines: "Have you got that Titus? It is for the sake of Jesus' girl that we are apostles. It is not for ourselves, for title or position. It is so that she can flourish and gain strength from the truth to walk in the full beauty of holy godliness. That is why we are apostles - so be courageous my son for the task that lies ahead. It will not always be popular nor will you get man's approval. But it is for the church. That reward is enough!"

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