Scripture: Titus 3.1-2
Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.
Scripture: Acts 4.16, 21
“What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it…They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
Reflection: Ready to do Good
By John Tillman
In Titus chapter 2 Paul said to “show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” And today, in Titus 3.2, he implores us to, “slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.”
In today’s climate of tweetstorms, rants, fake news, and the never-ending escalation of meaningless arguments, it may seem impossible to take Paul’s words to heart.
Is it really possible to live in such a way that our critics would have nothing to say? That they would be ashamed to have accused us?
Can we really be expected not to counter-attack those who attack us with falsehoods?
Rather than turning the other cheek, we prefer that if they slander us in the left wing news, we must slander them in the right wing news. And vice-versa.
Living in our current culture of social media outrage (and the monetization of that outrage by social media companies) we tend to answer Paul by saying, “Sorry, Paul. That’s not possible or practical.” And it may not be possible. Not without a miracle, anyway.
In the lectionary reading from the past weekend, we read of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin after performing a miraculous healing.
Despite the fact that Peter and John proclaimed a resurrection that the Sanhedrin was paying bribes to cover up, they could not ignore the goodness of what Peter and John had done.
We cannot, without compromising the facts of the gospel, please everyone. (As demonstrated by the suffering and death for the gospel that Peter and John eventually experience.) But history shows over and over that when the church acts in incontrovertibly beneficial ways on behalf of the community, those who oppose us will confess the goodness of our works, even if they deny the goodness of our gospel.
To regain respect, Christians need to repent from seeking to speak stridently enough to destroy our enemies. Instead, we need to seek to act miraculously, benefiting our communities, living out Christ’s model of servanthood, and enacting his resurrection before the world.
Peter and John were drawn to their miracle on their way to afternoon prayer. In your prayer life today, what miraculous service will the Holy Spirit draw you to?
Prayer: The Request for Presence
For the sake of your Name, lead me and guide me. — Psalm 31.3
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.