Doctrine has been a hot topic since the church began. Doctrine is often misunderstood as simply a set of beliefs; but doctrine, in it’s truest sense, is far more than that. Doctrine in the church is a set of beliefs, but it is also the teaching of life principles that are intended to shape the way we as Christians live in this world. We may want to say “I’m not interested in doctrine, I just want to love Jesus.” – but that is a doctrine, and it will affect the way a person lives.
That’s why doctrine is actually very important. Not simply as an exercise of the intellect, but as a guide for the choices we must make on a daily basis. The apostle Paul felt doctrine was important, and urges Christians to follow sound doctrine in the passage we’ll be reading this Sunday: Titus 2:1-10.
When Paul starts describing what he considers to be sound doctrine he doesn’t set out a series of theological propositions, what does he speak about? What does that tell us about the nature of a truly healthy belief system?
A lot of this passage presents pictures of women in roles that are hugely debated in our present society. We sometimes think that Paul is defining roles for women and men in this passage, but we have to be careful in reading it that way, because his mention of slaves being submissive in the next few verses, read that way, could lead us to believe Paul was also endorsing the evil of slavery. Rather than reading this as Paul defining roles, we should read this as Paul applying the principles of the gospel to the cultural framework he was presenting it in. It’s really sort of cool – cultures change and evolve and the truths of the gospel can apply within them, affecting change from within.
In our present culture, what do Paul’s words about family and employment mean to us? How does a healthy belief system get worked out in our modern society?
Stuff to chew on. See you Sunday! (Home group leaders – Here is the study guide for this teaching: leaders guide 5-13-12 )
7 thoughts on “Healthy Beliefs”
In a religious world that was overrun with written dogma, theology and dictates; Paul seems to be endorsing the idea of a living theology. More than something written down and then voted on by a group of scholars, this theology is seen in the lives of those claiming to follow Jesus. It’s actually a pretty cool idea. Talk about “guerrilla marketing”. It seems that Paul understood something 2000 years before it came into popular advertising usage, a picture paints….
Here we see Paul encouraging showing your faith by living a “normal” life. Nothing outlandish, don’t seek to draw attention to yourself. The older folks should be temperate and good, being examples of godly behavior to their children (the younger set) who then would be examples to their children. Reminds me of the Faberge shampoo commercial. All this with the ultimate aim of converting those that questioned this new way to be human. “Yeah, when they see that you’re basically normal, that you’re not crazy or weird, maybe they’ll believe.” Talk about a whiz bang growth strategy. But think about it, it’s brilliant in its simplicity. For the most part, people follow people. Instead of entrusted to dusty books, this theology is written on our hearts and lived out in our interactions with those around us. I have often wondered how 12 guys turned the world upside down. This might be a hint.
(Sorry. This is pretty long.)
When Paul starts to write about sound doctrine I believe he doesn’t start with a load of theology because it has nothing to do with the heart. Theology and laws bring regulation and Jesus already came to prove that you can’t regulate yourself or each other into sinless perfection. Paul starts with people looking inward and within their families, then addressing how this plays out in everyday life with work. He basically says to be ‘blameless’ in order to let the light of Christ speak for itself. Actions speak louder than words. When people see something put into action like what Paul is describing they tend to be attracted and want to know more. Especially when words are few and love is abundant.
This part of Titus is actually hard for me to write about because I feel so strongly about it. When taken out of context or even read with someone who is rooted in pop-culture it’s like trying to avoid land mines in a field full of them. Sometimes it amazes me that something so simple and good can be turned into something so taboo. Actually to me, it’s just proof that we truly do have an enemy. He will twist and push for the exact opposite of what is good in God’s eyes. Manipulating the view and making freedom look like chains and chains look like freedom. I think the whole book of Titus deals with breaking free from the chains that living in this world has placed on us and truly embracing the freedom that God designed for us.
Take the simple word submissive. The Greek word is hupotassõ and means to literally place under. So whether we’re talking about husbands and wives or slaves and masters isn’t that what Jesus did and asks us to do? He placed himself under God’s will which ultimately is what we are supposed to do. When we truly let our hearts be open to that it’s like a whole new world. We see that submission has nothing to do with who the top dog is amongst our family and peers, but more like a working order (not pecking order) that makes everything run in a peaceful and orderly fashion. If you put the pieces of the puzzle together in a way that is different from what God designed the picture just isn’t going to look the same. We have to remember how much He loves us in order to take the step of submission. A God who loves us so much does not want to put us under another person’s thumb to be bossed around and made helpless. If we trust in His love and take that step we will come to see that a wife’s submission to her husband does not bind her to a life of being ‘the little woman’. Rather it frees her from the heavy weight of carrying it all on her own. It gives her a partner and trusted confidant whom she can share burdens with in an intimate way. As for the whole working at home thing… Proverbs 31:27 says “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idelness.”. As an American society our first reaction is to concentrate on the part that says a woman works at home. Our vision is skewed so that part sticks out like a sore thumb. Why? What happened in our history that made us take the focus off of the part that says a woman works and a woman does not eat the bread of idleness and made us only see the part that says she works at home? (Please do not tar and feather me for this. I’m just stating it as I see it.) The femenist movement brought a spotlight to whether or not a woman should work at home. Think back to WWII and how women stepped up to help the war effort and then what happened when the men came back. A power struggle ensued in so many cases and sparked a debate about ‘the little woman’ at home. Our eyes were taken off of the directions God gave us and placed on ‘self’ rather than serving others. The pot was stirred and just as our enemy made Eve focus on the one thing she couldn’t have (that had never bothered her before) our enemy made society focus on something that was a non-issue as far as God was concerned. We became concerned with pecking order rather than working order. The point is to not eat the bread of idleness. Don’t be a lazy bum. Do the work God has sent you to do. You can’t do that sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and thinking of self.
As for slaves and masters (or employers and employees) again we see the word submissive. Who is it that asks us to be submissive though? Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”. God is our boss. HE asks us to be submissive. If we remember that our employer isn’t the one standing over us with his boot on our neck, but it is God who has placed us there (not with a boot but by our own free will), the twisted picture our enemy has painted disappears and we are free to see the real picture. God wants us to spread His love and His word. THAT is our job. How can we do that if our actions are anything other than what He has instructed us to do? If we are busy fighting, bad mouthing, or stealing from our boss all we are doing is defiling the view people will have of Christ. It is more than that though. We have to get to the heart of things. If our actions are perfect in these situations but our hearts are hard it WILL be seen and felt and we will have failed in our mission of spreading God’s love. Ultimately, submitting our hearts to God and staying in a close relationship with Him through prayer is the only way to have a true heart change. We give Him our heart, He cleans it up. A clean heart allows for love to go around abundantly and without hesitation or prerequisites. (I think Joseph is such a perfect example of ‘slaves and masters’.)
If the older men and older women do these things the rest will follow. The younger generation will learn by example instead of bucking empty words. We can’t forget though that the enemy is ever present and pointing out things to make us discontented. Our plans for the younger generation will not always work out the way we want them to or in the timing we think they should. However we have promises from God that if we do what He asks us, He will take care of the rest. It is not on our shoulders but His. Isaiah 55:11 says “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”. It is in God’s hands and God’s timing. It won’t always look the way we think it should. God does not grade us on the results we get out of other people. We each have a choice to make concerning our own hearts and that is where our concentration should remain. Choosing to submit our own hearts to God and having Him direct our steps. Not worrying in the fruit of our labor. Don’t look back, just watch ahead where God is directing you to stand.
All in all, I love Titus. Plain and simple. People like to say that life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. SO not true. It’s just a very simple one. Not easy by ANY means, but simple just the same.
I love the comments so rich yet so simple. Paul cuts right to the chase as he begins to describe how we live our daily lives with our family, our co-workers and our bosses. This is real theology…how what we believe affects how we live.. truly where the rubber meets the road..If we say we love Jesus then we MUST love others. We know love is a choice not necessarily a feeling..we have to choose to love people on a daily, sometimes hourly basis!! Like D.C. talk says “love is a verb”! A choice of our will to act in a way that resemble’s our Kings’ family. Love doesn’t lie, steel, keep account of wrongs, and on and on in Corinthians 13. Not easy but possible when we remember His AMAZING love for us and allow it to flow through us into ALL of our relationships(work, friends and home).. The marketing acronym KISS (Keep it simple stupid) is I think this is what Paul is describing here…if it causes others to look at you as a hypocrite, don’t do it!! Live what you believe then others will wonder and maybe choose life too!!!
Just an aside..(as someone who has done both) I think women who work at home (for free!) are worthy of lots more credit than they are given…that kind of servant hood is especially beautiful to our King!! Happy Mother’s Day to all you dedicated mom’s!!!!
Paul already knows that when man/culture/world get their hands on something of value, all hell will breakout. Division
, self promotion, greed, and worst of all mid or reinterpretation. HE WAS RIGHT.
also, I’m sure Paul wouldn’t say stupid! (sorry)
Julie I always love your comments! You’re awesome! Happy Mother’s Day!
I love yours too and you too sister!! Hope you have a wonderful day!!