Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sermon: Titus 2: 1-10 Living the Gospel

Tomorrow morning, the alarm will go off, and you’ll get up and get ready for school. You’ll walk or get dropped or get the bus to school. You get into the classroom and have your pencil case and your books all ready. What kinds of things might you be learning about tomorrow?

Have you ever thought about this: How does the teacher know what to teach you? When they are planning your lessons, how do they know what to cover? Do they just make it up, whatever they want to do? Can you imagine a primary school teacher who only liked doing maths, so for all the time in school, you only ever learned about maths? It wouldn’t be very good for your spelling or your reading or learning about art or history or anything else, would it?

To make sure that you don’t get a teacher like that there is such a thing as a curriculum. Now that’s a big word - does anyone know what that might be? ... It’s the things that you should be taught. And whether you knew it or not, your teacher has to follow the Northern Ireland curriculum. There are things you have to be taught by Key Stage 1 (P4), Key Stage 2 (P7), Key Stage 3 (Year 10), Key Stage 4 (Year 12). So every day, in all the different classes in your school, the teachers are following some kind of plan.

All the way through school, you’ll be able to go from not being able to write to being able to do joined up writing. Going from not knowing the times tables to being able to count and multiply and divide. You’ll learn lots about science and nature and the world around us. How to play cricket or hockey or any of the other sports you do. All because your teacher is following the plan.

During this term, we are reading about a church leader called Titus. He had been left on an island called Crete - has anyone been to Crete? You might have been on holiday there, but Titus is there to lead the church. And the work he has to do is teaching. Look at verse 1. What does Paul (who is writing) tell Titus?

‘You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.’ Paul says that the work of a church leader is to teach the people in the church. And what is it he has to teach? Not reading writing and arithmetic - but what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Now if something is in accord, that just means that it’s in agreement. So imagine that you had fallen out with a friend. But then you get back together again - you’re in accord, you’re friends again, you’re happy and agreeing together.

So what Titus has to teach is what agrees with sound doctrine, with the good news about Jesus. So when you hear the good news, this is what you should do - here’s how we need to live. So here’s the curriculum for the church. Here’s what has to be taught; what we all need to learn.

Now, who is in Key Stage 1? 2? 3? 4? There are different things that you have to learn, depending on who you are. You wouldn’t expect to sit a German or French GCSE exam on your first day in P1! There are different things for different groups to learn. Paul divides it up into older men, older women, younger women and young men.

I’ll let you decide which of the categories you fall into- and have a look at what you’re meant to be doing. But the thing to notice is that they’re all very similar. Each of them is about self-control, being careful how you live and what you do. Not just going wild. Not just doing anything at all. Being self-controlled.

You see, the place where Titus was, everyone just did what they wanted. Nobody cared about anything. They even took pride in the fact that they were all: ‘always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’

This was how they lived their lives. But if they’re now on Jesus’ team, then they need to do things the way Jesus wants. They need to hear and learn and do what Jesus wants.

For older men (not looking at anyone!) that means being temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled and sound in faith, love and endurance. Being the type of man that everyone will look up to and respect. Being the type of man that younger men will want to be like.

Older women, are to be reverent, not slanderers (not going around gossiping and speaking evil about others, spreading rumours), not addicted to much wine, but rather teaching what is good. Because it’s the older women who train up and encourage the younger women - older women, are you encouraging the next generation of women in the congregation? Younger women, here’s what you should be seeing and copying from the older women - how to love husbands and children; how to be self-controlled and pure, how to be busy at home, and kind, and subject to husbands.

Young men, there’s just one thing, but this is a big thing - to be self-controlled. To not get carried away by passions and desires. To be careful to watch over yourself. Titus, the church leader, is to be the example of this.

Slaves - or the equivalent in our day, workers - are to be honest, not stealing and not talking back.

There’s something for everyone to work on here. No one could say that we’re already doing this perfectly. Each of us need to hear God’s word about God’s way and God’s plan, and do it.

But the question is why. Why should we be doing these things? The immediate answer is because God says so. But God is good, and he also gives us three reasons why we should do these things. We’ll look at them quickly. In the reading (which you have in front of you), can you find the first so? (Not we’re not talking about sew - to stitch) So? It’s there in verse 5: ‘So that no one will malign the word of God.’ The first reason we’re to do these things is so that no one says anything against the word of God.

The second so? ‘So that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.’ (8). People might not like the church, might not like Christians, but if we are doing good, then they’ll have nothing bad to say about us.

And the third so? ‘So that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.’ Imagine you have a school disco coming up. There's a boy or girl you want to dance with or you want them to like you. Would you turn up in your old clothes? No, you'd want to make a good impression. You'd wear something new, something fancy. You might wear perfume or makeup or aftershave. You try to be attractive.

When we hear the good news of Jesus, about God our Saviour, and we believe in Jesus, something must change. We want to turn away from our sins and live the way God wants us to live. Other people will watch us to see how we live. To see if believing in Jesus really makes a difference. You might be the only Bible some people will ever read. You might be the only Christian they know. And they are watching carefully.

She says that Jesus is her Saviour - is it true? Does Jesus make a difference? He goes to church on Sundays - but how does he live the rest of the week? Does it change him?

God has given the curriculum for the church. The teaching plan is laid out. Will we hear and obey?

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in Aghavea Church on Sunday 18th May 2014.

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