Tag Archives: Titus

Avoid stupid controversies

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? (John 1:46)

Nathanael might have been reading Philip’s status update on Facebook, for all we can tell. His reply sure sounds like the snarky comments we post when we read something we don’t agree with.

The dismissive behavior we display on Facebook and Twitter is really nothing new; in the second-century letter to Titus (c. 110 AD) we hear the writer’s strong warning to Christians against the kind of behavior we engage in so often, a verse worth memorizing because it stands the test of time.

Avoid stupid controversies … (Titus 3:9)

But why? The writer expands on his idea. “Avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.”

Worthless

Arguing about stupid Episcopal Church controversies, trying to prove a point by citing the canons, stirring up partisan passion about how misguided the leaders at 815 are, debating who’s right and who’s wrong — none of these things communicate the inspiring truth about what God is doing in the world.

And it’s not just our internal church controversies that are stupid.

You don’t have to have an opinion about every story, every commentary on the evening news. You don’t even have to watch the news.

Your compelling evidence, exhaustively cited, won’t change the mind of that guy on Twitter. Besides which, no one wants to read your 57 nested tweets on the same subject (unless it’s #AddAWordRuinAMovie or #LentMadness).

Your dismissive comments on Facebook about Obama or Bush, gun control or transgender rights, Palestine or Israel, Guy Fieri or Anthony Bourdain — and your obsessive sharing of political posts (left or right) do not change anyone’s mind.

Usually, they just make you look like a jerk.

Unprofitable

Not only is it a waste of time to engage in stupid controversies, it doesn’t actually help.

How does your arguing reflect the God we Christians worship, who hates nothing he has made and forgives the sins of all who are penitent (BCP 264)?

How do your opinions demonstrate your “new and contrite heart” and the humility of one who remembers “that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”?

How does your evidence against someone point to the God of all mercy and the “perfect remission and forgiveness” he offers for everyone?

How do your dismissive comments acknowledge your own “wretchedness”?

Pro tip: They don’t. Srsly.

Eager, not anxious

On Saturday mornings, we pray “that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of [God’s] sanctuary” (BCP 99).

We are anxious about so many things, and the news cycle and social media feed that anxiety. We feel like we have to be up-to-date, have to weigh in, have to have an opinion on everything.

What if we were instead eager for one thing?

What if we were eager to rest in God’s grace, so freely given to us, so freely shared with everyone?

What if we were eager to share that grace ourselves?

What if instead of arguing, we tried listening? Instead of offering opinions, we shared experiences? Instead of listing the evidence against, we tried hearing the evidence for? Instead of dismissing, we tried admitting?

What if we admitted other people into the rest we share? What if we admitted them into the sanctuary?

What if, instead of Nathanael’s snarky “Can anything good come from there?” we offered our humble invitation: “Come and see”?

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The Word who is trustworthy

[A bishop] must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)

The Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, where I serve as a deacon, is preparing to elect a new bishop. Our bishop, Russ Jacobus, has announced his retirement, and the Standing Committee is working on a diocesan profile so share with those who are eventually nominated. The election will take place in October.

Already this year, we have had several survey days for members of the diocese to discuss what is required (and desired) in a bishop, and what is required of each of us as members of Christ’s Body, the Church.

“Having a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy …” is an awfully good place to start.

One of the particular treasures of the Daily Office is that it soaks you in Scripture. You can’t help it — as you follow the Daily Office lectionary, you read all 150 Psalms every seven weeks, the New Testament in the course of a year, and the Old Testament over the course of two years.

But even more than that, in the Daily Office you read Scripture in the context of worship, in the context of prayer, in the context of a living relationship with Jesus, the Word who himself is trustworthy.

“I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God,” says John the Baptist in tonight’s Gospel reading (John 1:34).

It’s not just bishops who need to be able to “preach with sound doctrine.” All of us bear witness to the love we have known in Jesus, the love revealed on every page of the Scriptures and in every canticle and collect of the Daily Office.

I have seen and have testified to the Word who is trustworthy. You can trust him, too.