Our home groups are currently working through a study on the book of Titus, and last week we spent some time looking at Titus 2:1-8. Paul devotes a good portion of the letter to instructing the Cretan Christians in the relatively new church on what the character of a godly person should look like, something which is hardly surprising, given the reputation of the thoroughly ungodly culture they lived in.
The shaping of this character is key, because one of the emphases of chapter 2 is that the character of each believer has a direct impact on other believers. Particularly in 2:1-10, we see Paul stressing that each believer, no matter who they are, is in a very real sense responsible for one another. As a believer, you must be concerned for your own faith and godliness, because the faith and godliness of other believers depends on you. The fact is that our faith is in no way a private thing, and especially when we gather together to worship and fellowship with one another, that faith is very much lived out in public.
We had a good time in our group discussing what this looks like in practice. Often we have the tendency to think that our faith has no impact on those around us, but even the simple things we do when we gather on Sunday, for example, have an impact on others. Do we leave immediately after the service is over, or do we stay around to fellowship and encourage each other in faith? Do we leave our Bibles closed and look around as Scripture is being read, or do we actively follow along and listen? Do we just mumble through the songs, or do we sing with joy and conviction? Do we go stand in the corner and huddle around with our close friends, or do we actively seek fellowship with our whole church family, aiming to be other-person centred, reaching out to love and encourage one another?
In one sense, these are just simple practices, but they have a profound impact on those around us. To be sure, faith comes by hearing, but a large part of what it means to live out that faith is learned by observation. We are a people transformed by grace, seeking to be transformed more and more "while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). And as we live faithfully as God's people, we enable each other to do the same.
Jake Belder serves as assistant minister at St John's Church, Newland near Hull, England. Belder coordinates the church's community outreach and blogs at JakeBelder.com often on the subjects of ministry and theology.