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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Scripture Reading: Titus 2
But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us.

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you. (NRSV)

Each summer when I was a young girl, my family and I would drive from Kentucky to Minnesota for our annual visit with relatives and close friends. We made the trip in two days, stopping for lunch and breaks at rest areas and the occasional fast-food restaurant along the highway. On the day of departure, I wanted to roll out of bed and right into the station wagon, but instead my sister and I had to first dress ourselves in the tidy clothes picked out the night before and comb and part our hair so that it could be pulled neatly back into barrettes with bows.

I remember asking why we had to fix our hair when we were going to be in the car for two days. My mom explained that many of the people in the towns along the way most likely had never seen an Asian person before. Therefore, we would want to make a good first impression. Of course, once we got to the home of my aunt and uncle, we played long into the days, frolicking in our pajamas with our hair mussed.

As I read the letter to Titus, I get the sense that underlying the various instructions is a concern similar to that of my mom’s: that the behavior of the members of the Christian household should make a positive impression upon people outside the family of faith. In the rationales that follow the instructions to each group in the church you can see what was believed to be at stake: “that God’s word won’t be ridiculed,” that “they might make the teaching about God our savior attractive in every way.”

Our faith should make a difference in our behavior; good news should show up in good behavior. It is also through our actions that our faith is most clearly witnessed. At a time when the church was strange in society, it was important to make truly good impressions.

God of our lives, remake my heart so that my life reflects your image. Then, when strangers look upon me, they may see your reflection there. For the sake of Christ I pray. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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