But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
So the last time, we left off here: somehow good works adorn sound doctrine. Somehow, the facts about God ought to be adorned with a people who are a "model of good works". And it's your job to preach doctrine and the consequences of those doctrines -- that is, how to live now that this is true.
And we're all protestants here (more or less), so we're not hardly on about good works somehow meriting our salvation. We believe it's by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we are saved, right? So what's all this then about a "model of good works" and "show yourself" and "adorning the Gospel"? Aren't we right and sound to nod solemnly as the doctrine is recited and the creed is announced in service and there it is?
Here's the thing: the church is a consequence of the Gospel. That is, the Gospel causes the church. And when the church is caused, it's not like in Tommy when the pinball wizard finally gets his sight back those who want to be like him simply don his uniform and play pinball with blinders on -- we don't just wear the Jesus t-shirt or the Jesus ties and hair bows and watch whatever it is God is going to do.
Someplace Paul says that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (it's Eph 2 in case it's not canonical unless I cite the verse numbers) That is, we are raised to new life in the resurrection of Christ -- because Christ has died for our sin, we can have His new life right now. So, dear pastor reader, your charge here is to make a people not only who know good doctrine in the propositional sense, but to make a people, through the preaching of the word, who do good doctrine and adorn good doctrine and the Good News of Christ by the new life that they live together.
I know on the surface that doesn't seem like much of a point. But let me ask you something: is your church a community against which, as Paul says, outsiders have nothing evil to say about you? Yes -- in fact, it may be. But is there anything good an outsider would be somewhat impressed by? I'm sure all the children are well-mannered, and all the women are modestly dressed. But does your church adorn the Gospel, making the Gospel itself somehow appealing to those who need it the most?
Do your people look like the resurrection, or merely the undead? You take a look at them, and you decide.