Over the winter break, I finished reading the book of Titus in a Bible study. For context purposes, Titus is part of the Pastoral Epistles. Essentially, it’s a solid how-to church book. I’m a simple woman and show me any of the practical books of the Bible and I will drop everything and immerse myself in the Scripture until I feel satisfied. Hence why I find great joy in reading the book of Proverbs every month. Back to Titus, Paul writes to his protégé, Titus to explain how to church.
Crete, which is an island in Greece is where Paul left his friend, Titus. Crete was kind of a mess at the time with several false teachers, poor leadership, and people not understanding the gospel. To label it as a mess would be painting it better than it really was. I imagine Paul saying, “Yeah, so Cretans aren’t doing so hot right now so…here’s a little tutorial for you. Um…go make right what was left undone. Alright, good luck, and goodbye!” That dialogue is not recorded in the Bible but I find it humorous. That’s how I like to picture that conversation.
I’m not here to preach to you. All I am is a college student that reads the Bible and enjoys writing about it. Titus is only three chapters and I would encourage you to read all of it so you can be sure that I am not taking things out of context. Take my thoughts lightly and if anything clicks, well, give God all that glory. It’s Him and not me.
Chapter 3 of Titus is profound. My Christian friend, add these verses to your list of “salvation is through faith alone” page and my non-Christian friend, I ask that you humbly give me a chance to share my thoughts. Spoiler alert, at the end of the day, I am nothing but a woman who is filled with sin, but my security lies in the goodness of God. I have done absolutely nothing to earn my faith as it is all through the overwhelming love of Jesus. I just ask that you give me a chance to share my thoughts after reflecting upon the grace of God.
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. 2 They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. 3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. 4 But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. 6 He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying, and I want you to insist on these teachings so that all who trust in God will devote themselves to doing good. These teachings are good and beneficial for everyone. Titus 3:1-8
“We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures” is beautifully depressing, but that sounds like culture today, right? Living in an increasingly ungodly culture makes me the odd one out; I understand and it is fascinating to see the world from that perspective. I look at what drives our culture and what drives people in general: sex, money, power, fame, complete acceptance by society, complete happiness from a broken and fallen world. We seek it all to find purpose, worth, and our identity. Listen, I am not judging you, I’m a Christian saved only by grace alone, not from my works. If you don’t believe me, just read verse 5 again, “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” If I am completely honest with you, the words “faith alone Christ alone” is not in the Bible verbatim. But through this verse, I cannot emphasize with you that the free gift of eternal life is found in faith in Jesus alone. You don’t need to lose your soul chasing worldly pleasures that will either fade away before you or you will fade away before it. Today is a beautiful day to give your life to Christ. Stop running, stop chasing, friend.
I look at other religions and it’s always faith + good works. Maybe I’m just a skeptic, but what qualifies as enough works? When are you good enough? What does that mean to just “be a good person” and if there is an afterlife what qualifies as your ticket to paradise? Again, do not get the order confused, it’s seeking truth, finding Jesus, then navigating this world while being fundamentally rooted in the gospel as a whole. Who cares if Christianity is the only religion that does not demand works, what matters is if it points to truth, right? Who cares if Jesus loves you regardless of your sins if he isn’t God? Who cares that there is a God full of love and full of wrath in a way that does not contradict one another if there is not a heaven or hell in the first place? The order matters. If Christianity is everything but the truth, who cares enough to study it, live by it, and be transformed by it? None of this matters in the first place if God doesn’t exist. Let that resonate with you.
So to you, my atheist friend, my Muslim friend, my agonistic friend, my Mormonism friend, when are you good enough? I relate this to the lusts and pleasures of this world because I run into the same conclusion. When are you happy enough? We live in a culture that chases after complete acceptance. Complete acceptance of yourself by yourself and by the world. We believe that it is the key to happiness. “Just be yourself, be who you want to be, let no one stop you.” This idea of accepting yourself is not a bad idea. You have an intentional designer that looks at the world and says, “Come as you are and be saved.” But I think the flaws in this argument comes from this misinterpretation of what love looks like. Where is truth and grace in this?
Culture preaches “you do you” without telling you that there is a moving line you cannot cross. You want to be a comedian, go for it, but give it five years and you’ll be canceled for some of the jokes you make. Do you want to be an advocate for something? Great, we love that you seek justice, but you better make sure it’s something that the majority of us support. Otherwise, we will label you as uneducated, possibly a racist, possibly a sexist, possibly a hypocrite, but it all depends on where our culture is at. You want to be an influencer, that’s awesome, but you better be perfect in your wording because. Otherwise, we will find one accidental misuse of a word and tear you apart for it. How can you chase culture’s acceptance when it changes every year? How can you possibly find rest in a moving target? And listen, I don’t think this idea is horrible, in fact, accountability is incredibly essential as imperfect people, but who is the judge? Who gets to decide what’s right and what’s wrong? Who gets to allow when this target moves? Where is truth and grace in this?
Okay, fine, maybe you’re cool and you don’t care at all whether or not culture accepts you. That’s probably much better on your mental health anyway. But let me ask you, are you satisfied with yourself? What would it take for you to be completely satisfied by the unfulfilling pleasures of this world? Is there a price range? Maybe it’s a body count? Maybe it’s when you’re the CEO? Maybe it is a vacation spot? Your target moves too, my friend. How can you genuinely be satisfied?
And I am not judging you, twenty minutes after I open my Christmas gifts and I’m kind of already over it. Leading up to it, it is all I can think about. Likely and unintentionally I am thinking that I will be so much happier after I receive whatever is on my Amazon wish list. Then comes the day and it’s wonderful and by the next day, I want something else. Can you believe it? How can I possibly already be longing for something else? I use happiness along with this idea of doing good works because it runs into a similar problem, ultimately it is impossible to be filled. “Be a good person”, but what is a “good enough” person? Even when you look at other religions, there is no freedom in the certainty of salvation. Our targets move. Their targets move. When have you done enough works?
The arguably shocking thing is these are all biblical concepts yet misinterpreted by culture. We long for love and acceptance, we long for happiness, we long for justice. Jesus offers the free gift of eternal life to everyone. Hey you, the one who thinks you need to do good works to be loved, Jesus already has accepted you. Hey you, Jesus died for your sins. Hey you, the one that believes you can be endlessly happy by the temporary pleasures of this world, Jesus is better as He is the only one that can fill you up completely. Hey you, culture changes what’s right and what’s wrong every year or so, but Jesus is the same as yesterday, today, and forever more. He is not a moving target and provides a clear basis for morality and one that applies across cultures. Hey you, there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less. Hey you, come as you are as it is a wonderful day to be saved.
Chapter 3 alone assures my salvation. It is secured in trusting that Jesus is Lord. I am a Christian, unable to be satisfied by the pleasures of this world, unable to be fully accepted by our culture, but endlessly loved by Jesus. He made me with purpose, with intention, and with identity. I can be hated by the world yet I know that I am fully loved by God. I radiate the essence of beauty because I was created intentionally and wonderfully. I am not just some sort of conglomeration of atoms. I rejoice in the free gift of salvation and because I am saved, I am motivated to do good works. Because it is not a guessing game with Jesus, I can rest. There is a peaceful certainty about who I am, whose I am, and what is to come, no matter what happens during my time on earth.
I don’t say this because the Christian life is the most feel-good religion or because it was once overwhelmingly popular and the norm to believe in a God, I say this because I invite you to seek truth. Again, do not get the order incorrectly. Who cares if Christianity is the only religion that does not demand works if it is a waste of time to believe in Him? Be genuine about your findings and look at the evidence that exists. Take every theory that has been presented and put them all to the test, where does absolute truth lead you to?
My findings have always brought me back to Jesus. If yours do, well hey, today is a great day to be saved. If your findings do bring you to Jesus, consider the beauty in the profound truth, assurance , love, and grace found in the gospel alone. If your findings bring you to Jesus, oh man, He changes everything. Everything about who you are, how you see yourself, how you see the world, get ready for God to rock your world. Get ready to experience the freedom in His abounding grace. You are loved fully, created intentionally, and made worthy.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17