By Joe LaGuardia
You remember Titus, don’t you? He’s the one who has an epistle in the New Testament bearing his name?
I didn’t remember him either. We rarely read about minor characters in the Bible such as Titus. When was the last time your pastor preached a sermon on him?
Titus, as minor as he seems, was actually a critical figure in the early Christian missionary movement under St. Paul’s leadership. He founded, led, and organized churches. His ability to bring people together and build coalitions for the cause of Christ is well documented.
In other words, there is much to learn from Titus, and we Christians would do well to follow his example in living the type of evangelism his life espoused.
According to Paul’s letter to the Galatians, Titus was an early convert to the Christian faith. He was Greek and, therefore, avoided conformity to the Jewish Law while becoming a believer in Christ (Gal. 2:2). He was Paul’s partner in spreading the Gospel in Macedonia, Corinth, Crete, and Dalmatia.
Further investigation affirms that Titus’s evangelism methods had qualities worthy of mimicry.
Titus, for instance, represented a type of evangelism that was filled with consolation and encouragement. In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote that his tumultuous relationship with the Corinthian churches found some healing in the wake of Titus’ efforts (2 Cor. 7:1-7).
Titus consoled the community of Corinth and, in turn, consoled Paul. He was an agent of reconciliation between two parties that didn’t see eye to eye.
Evangelism that makes a difference is always one that brings consolation to those who are at odds with God. Too often, evangelists use hostile or harsh words to coerce audiences into a place of conviction. Consolation, on the other hand, allows people to experience the love of Christ in a way that compels them to follow Christ with sincerity, hope, and sustainable discipleship.
Titus was also a person of joy and enthusiasm (2 Cor. 7:13, 8:16). Keen readers of the Bible get the sense that Titus’ life was so transformed by the love of Christ that his passion for the gospel became contagious.
Titus confronts those of us who live life in a state of melancholy and despair. Christ’s salvation should fill us with an unyielding joy that cannot help but affect our life and the lives of others.
Titus promoted a type of evangelism that emphasized personal responsibility and generosity.
According to the Corinthian correspondences, a part of Paul’s conflict with Corinthian Christians was their lack of supporting an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. Paul sent Titus to persuade the Corinthians to give out of their abundant wealth and love for God (2 Cor. 8). After all, if God gave them the gift of salvation, how much more should they give to those in need of material resources.
Titus did not let these disciples skate through their faith without taking responsibility in participating on behalf of social justice. He knew that following Jesus was a task resulting in joy and redemption, but he also knew that it was a task requiring sacrifice, charity, work, missions, and some hard life changes.
In a personal correspondence, Paul encouraged Titus to remember God’s grace and train others “to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly” (Titus 2:11-12). This discipleship was no watered-down gospel free from the obligations of the cross-shaped life.
Although Titus is a minor character in the bigger plot of God’s salvation, he has much to teach us even today. Like him, our evangelism and discipleship can take the shape of the joy, enthusiasm, responsibility and generosity that made Titus such a trusted figure in the Bible and the early church.