Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.
Last week in our 7th grade boys Sunday School class, we went through the list of the 12 Disciples, discussing each one’s claim to fame & how they helped the church survive & thrive for 2,000 years. To help them remember each Disciple we also included their respective Coat of Arms/Symbol. Peter has the keys to the church & the upside down cross. Andrew has the cross in the form of an X. Philip has the loaves of bread & cross.
While some of the Disciples are well known: Peter, John, Thomas, and sadly Judas, I’ve always been more intrigued by the lesser-known Disciples. Their faith was just as commendable as the renowned ones, but somehow their sacrifices are too often overlooked. (Aside: I’ve always felt the bravest Disciples were those martyred after James, since they knew what was going to happen to them & yet still preached the Good News.)
Of course, the Disciples can prompt lots of humor:
- What kind of car did the disciples drive? A Honda Accord, because as we read at one point they were no longer of one accord.
- What is their favorite social media outlet? Twitter of course, because it is so easy to get followers.
- What is Peter’s favorite kind of pie? Pumpkin.
Today’s passage is intriguing because of the 3 Christians identified: Titus, Brother #1, & Brother #2. (Note: Since Paul sometimes references fellow believers as “brother,” scholars debate whether they are indeed related.) Let’s look at them in reverse order:
Brother #2: We’ll call him, X. Am. He had been tested many times & found to be a zealous man of faith. X. Am had great optimistic confidence in the Corinthians, and was willing to make the journey to help those in need.
Brother #1: We’ll call him, Sir Mon. He was a high profile, charismatic preacher with a devoted following. Sir Mon was considered to be so trustworthy, that he was selected by the donating churches to accompany their love offering.
And then we have our friend, Titus. Titus was believed to be from Antioch & of Greek ancestry. He was converted to the faith by the Apostle Paul & served as his secretary & interpreter. He was not circumcised & was used as an example by Paul at the 1st Church Council in Jerusalem that Gentiles needn’t fulfill the Mosaic rites to be considered a follower of Christ; the acceptance of Christ should be the only requirement to be a member of the church.
Paul sent Titus to work with the church in Corinth & his work/teachings were well received. As our passage notes, Paul had absolute confidence in Titus’ integrity & faithfulness as Titus takes the initiative to organize collections for impoverished Christians in Jerusalem. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, Paul has the 2 brothers in faith accompany Titus – even though Paul had no doubts about Titus & his reliability.
Titus eventually ends up at a church in Crete, a very challenging assignment since Crete was known for its very loose morals. But Titus uses his strength of character to help redirect the wayward congregation & to help re-form the church’s leadership. Titus’ 20-year ministry would be marked by his ability to preserve the church’s direction in the face of difficult opposition. Titus was buried in Crete at the age of 94.
Interestingly, St. Titus is the patron saint of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps & his name adorns the Order of Titus Award given to outstanding Army Chaplains &/or their Assistants for meritorious efforts in ministry.
While there is a popular premise that many of the leaders of the early church were just “ordinary” folks, who when empowered with the Holy Spirit, were able to accomplish “extraordinary” feats, I would submit that this contention sells these early champions of the faith a bit short. They weren’t ordinary. They were men/women of amazing character who, with God’s help, were able to achieve great things for the Kingdom.
We, too, can strive to be of reliable character as we stand ready to serve God’s Kingdom. As I challenged the boys last Sunday, how would you describe someone of good character? How might we become someone who is reliable & dependable? What symbols might we put on our own Coat of Arms that depict what is important to us? If you’d like to join in, a template is below. Give it a try!
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Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.