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Bringing the Hope of the Gospel to the Lost

I still remember one of my long-time mentors some 23 years ago, in the middle of criticizing our church at the time, stopping me dead in my tracks and softly saying to me as he pointed to the streets of East L.A., “see those people walking around out there? Aimless and without hope in life? That’s why we are here. To reach them. Not to complain about petty things in the church.” It was as if I had been struck with a two by four at that moment. Here I was whining and complaining about “peripheral” matters in the church, and he was telling me that I was losing sight of our mission to “make disciples” by preaching the Gospel.

As Paul writes to Titus, he does not want Titus to lose sight of the great reality that God, through His churches on the island of Crete, wanted them to “proclaim” and “live” the Gospel. Paul was an apostle and a bondservant for the sake of the Gospel (1:1-3), and Titus was to “establish” the churches on the island of Crete, that sinners on the island would take notice, as the church “adorned the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect” (2:10) by their loving obedience and commitment to the truth of the Gospel. Far from irrelevant, the church exists on earth to communicate and herald the glory of God as seen in the face of the glorious Lord Jesus Christ, as we anticipate the King’s return!

What strikes me about Titus’ mission on the island of Crete is that Crete was not a very lovely place! By their own testimony, the place was rampant with deception, immorality, wickedness, and greed (1:10-16). Why this describes So Cal, doesn’t it!? How often do we grumble and look with disdain upon our surrounding community, instead of being driven to say, “oh God, thank you for putting us here, in this exact location, to reach people for Christ!” How often do we look at our, might I say, “Cretan-like” culture, and are moved with compassion and a heart for the people that God has called us to reach? If we learn one thing from the letter of Titus, it is that God places His churches in strategic places not to “run from the world” but to “reach” and “engage” the world with the saving and powerful message of Christ! Drop the bomb, and see the world changed as they “behold glory” in the face of Christ! Let us not focus on peripheral matters, but remain fixated upon our singular Mission of Exalting Christ, building His church by making disciples.