It’s the third of our weekly holiday postcards from Crete – and what a Summer Holiday it’s proving to be!
You may remember from our dip into Titus last week that the Cretans were full of darkness. Easily at loggerheads with one another, tellers of lies and taken up with a variety of evil “passions and pleasures.” These were symptoms of the root cause, their rebellion against God.
And if we’re caught up in any of those same symptoms, more likely than not we are also at odds with God our Maker.
Question: what solution does God offer to such evil behaviour?
Answer: mercy. Yes, really!
He doesn’t tell us to pull our socks up. He doesn’t tackle the symptoms. He gets at the root cause.
Just see what hope and joy these words in Titus bring:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. (Titus 3:4-8).
What does the Christian know to be true?
1) God is a Saviour
If we recognise evil in us, if we see we have no care for God, then this truth brings such hope: God is a Saviour. Like a lifeguard able to jump in and save the person drowning, God is our Saviour. Indeed, Jesus Christ came to Earth as God our Saviour in flesh and bones.
And notice this, Jesus appearing on Earth was the appearing of God’s “kindness and love” for us. God wants us to be saved. And it’s not a begrudging feeling. He has seen us in darkness and loved us out of it. But how?
2) God’s salvation is only through his mercy and grace
Anyone who is saved by God knows it is “not because of righteous things we had done.” The answer to our darkness is not to start trying to do good things instead. That’s not where God is looking.
Instead, in his mercy he chooses to overlook our offences against him. And in his grace, his generosity, towards us, through Jesus he gives us his Holy Spirit. In other words God changes us from the inside. He gives us his own Spirit as a free gift, so that he can look on us as holy and justified – that is, pleasing to and “in the right” with him. All of this is a gift out of his kindness and love. Astonishing!
3) In saving us, God shares his life with us
Christians become “heirs having the hope of eternal life.” We’re no longer set against God, but delight at the thought of sharing his eternal life with him. We begin to hope to see him face to face.
And yet it’s not an uncertain hope. It’s the same hope an heir has. If you know you’re written into a relative’s will, then one day the riches will be yours. In the same way, because we know we’re saved by God, we know one day we shall see him.
Wonderful! God saves us with a salvation which is all about his mighty and generous work!
But how can I be sure I am saved? And does God’s salvation have any influence on our behaviour? Does the solution for the root cause impact the symptoms? We’ll see next week…
With love in Christ