The task of the church is to make God attractive.
If the church is attractive then people will probably think that God is.
I sometimes find it hard to believe that God trusts us with that task, but he does.
That's what Paul is getting at in Titus chapter 2. He tells people to do a lot of things "so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive." (Titus 2: 10 NIV)
He wants the church to behave so that people will have nothing bad to say about us. (verse 8)
He wants us to be eager to do good.
He says that's why Jesus gave himself for us.
Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago. Some things have changed. To my taste this chapter seems rather sexist. I find it uncomfortable that Paul has nothing to say about slavery. I'm pretty sure that Paul would write some things differently today. But not much.
So here's today's big question: what can I do today that will make the faith I represent attractive? The best answers will probably be drawn out of Titus chapter 2.
I guess many of you have already said 'no,' but stay with it ...
Church leadership is about a lot of things, but mostly it is about setting an example. When you become a leader you get an invisible badge that says 'copy me.'
Scary, isn't it? Leaders set themselves up as the people that others should follow.
The good news is that leaders don't need to be perfect. A bit of honest imperfection actually helps.
So here, from Paul's letter to Tutus, are some areas where leaders set an example:
* in their marriages and other relationships
* in parenting, whether that is with their biological family or others they support
* in avoiding any trace of bullying
* in managing their temper
* in not getting drunk
* in not being violent
* in financial integrity
* in hospitality
* in holding fast to the good news
Quite a list, isn't it? There are technical skills too, but they are secondary.
The more you have these qualities the better you will lead. Anyone feeling brave enough to volunteer?
One more thing - if the correct people don't step forward the wrong people will. The second half of Titus 1 will show you what I mean.
I've got a few. I won't say too few to mention, but I will tell you one of mine.
I regret that I didn't work out how to brush my teeth until well into adult life. Don't rush to me with sympathy; my teeth are ok, but there's been a lot of work in mouth that predates the dentist carefully explaining the best way to brush and floss. When my children were young my catchphrase was 'every bit of every tooth,' a lesson I learned the hard way.
This week is our harvest service and we are supporting a project organised by Operation Agri in Nepal. They do a lot of things; one is that they teach children to take care of their teeth. They also teach them what they should do in an earthquake and many other things.
I didn't know that I was brushing my teeth incorrectly, but boy did I notice the difference when I started getting it right.
Jesus tells us to come and learn from him. I wonder what else I'm doing wrong. I wonder what I need to hear from him. Maybe the work of Operation Agri will help me find out.