So last week I asked you pastors to consider that Paul wants pastors -- that is, you men, and men who have the place in the church you have -- to be his "true children" in the faith. It's the first common element of his letters to Timothy and Titus, and I asked you to think about what kind of title that was -- because I think, honestly, that it's a daunting compliment. It's the kind of thing that, on the one hand, you should really long to be, and on the other, if you heard someone call you that, you'd blush -- because it's the kind of honor a reasonable man would deny of himself.
We're going to stick to Titus this week, still in the greeting:
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;Now, this passage is chocked-full of theological porterhouse, so we're going to linger here a while, but I've underlined two parts of the greeting here which you should consider.
To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
"Well, hang on there Frank," says one fellow with a latte cup in one hand and a journal of some kind in the other, "you're focussing on what Paul is saying about himself here -- not what he's saying to or about Titus. You're already off the rails if you think that you can impress me with your exposition when your exegesis is frankly unfounded."
Well, my friend: this is why we started with "true child in the faith". See: when Paul says this about Titus, or about Timothy, that's not just a euphemism of affection. It's a sign that Paul thinks, in some way, Titus and/or Timothy is already like him. They believe what he believes. They share in the same hope that he has in Christ. But they are also -- as we shall see as we read through here -- set to the same work He set to.
So when Paul says he is a "servant of God", and that he is set upon his work "by the command of God our Saviour", we have to wonder how those who are seeking to be pastors should look upon what they are setting out to do.
Someone who is a "Servant", who serves "by the command" of some other power doesn't much have a right to think a lot of himself. That doesn't mean he has to crawl around like some kind of beaten-down person -- but it does mean that his authority is, in the first place, not his own. What he has is a responsibility and not a free ride.
You know: if Pecadillo comes to your house with a search warrant, he can come in and search. He can do the work the warrant tells him he can do for the reason the warrant tells him to do it. But if he doesn't find anything, he doesn't have a right to then take a Coke from your fridge or anything. His work is under the control of a higher power -- and he goes and does it as that power requires of him.
So if you are a "the true child of the faith" of a "servant" "by the command of God", you probably have an obligation to do God's work in the way God demands it be done. In the same way Pecadillo -- as a police officer -- has rules which govern his conduct and the scope of his job, you the pastor have an obligation to conduct yourself as a "servant" who is under "the command of God".
And for those of you who are not pastors, you have an obligation to allow these men to obey those rules. The part of the flock is not to demand something from the shepherd -- or even from the hired hand -- which is not up to them. So for the rest of us, we should see this letter to Titus (and the ones to Timothy) as how we should shape our expectations of our pastors.
The details of that come later in this letter, but we're not done with the greeting yet. In that, you have a week to think about whether you see yourself as a "servant of God" in the same way Paul means here.
Talk amongst yourselves.