OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #225 Temporary Amnesia
While at a children’s program when we were young, my brother and I were playing a game with the other boys when he was hit on the head. Even though he was stunned at first, all seemed well and we continued with our game.
But then after a few minutes he started asking weird questions like, “Where are we?” We thought he was joking, but he persisted. “Stop messing around,” we told him. His confusion continued and caught the attention of the leaders when he asked, “Who am I?” Again, we thought he was joking and told him to stop, but the leaders recognized signs of a concussion and called our mother, who took him to the hospital and had him checked out.
“Who am I?” Whether for a child with a mild head injury, or an adult trying to make way in life, identity is a huge issue. Lately we had someone travel through our area who visited our church. Her quest was to find her birth parents in order to answer that same question.
As we start Paul’s letter to Titus, we see Paul’s sense of identity and meaning in the first three verses. Often we skip over these introductory words to get into the “meat” of a book, but we’ll miss something important if we do. Only Romans contains a longer personal address, and in it we see valuable insight into what Paul believes about himself.
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ...” Servant and apostle are Paul’s two favourite descriptions of himself. In almost every letter he uses one or the other of these words to describe himself, but only here and in Romans does he use both together.
We tend to think of “servant” as a demeaning title, but this is not so in the Bible. Jesus is God’s holy servant (Acts 3:13, 26; 4:27, 30), doing the will of the Father as the suffering servant (Isaiah 42, 53; Matthew 12:18-20).
Paul was once “Saul,” violent persecutor of Christians, but this changed when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and appointed him “servant” and “witness.” (Acts 26:16) From this moment Paul considered it an honour to be God’s servant and a privilege to do what the Lord assigned (1 Corinthians 3:5). For Paul, servanthood is a gift of grace (Ephesians 3:7).
The idea of apostle and witness are closely tied. The main prerequisite of an apostle was to have witnessed the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:21-22). In this way apostles would be Jesus’ witnesses (Acts 1:8). Paul knew that he experienced the resurrection in a different way from the rest, but he was a witness nonetheless, and a grateful one indeed since he knew he did not deserve to be called apostle (1Corinthians 15:8-9).
Paul knows that he is “servant” and “apostle,” but there is more. He is a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. His identity is tied to Jesus Christ. Without this connection, the rest is meaningless. There are lots of people who serve, and lots of people with a message, but only one Jesus Christ and Paul holds unswervingly to Him. It defines him more than anything else and gives him purpose and focus, as we shall see next week.
When my brother was hit in the head, he developed temporary amnesia and it was very confusing for him. Sometimes when we are feeling confused about life, it is because we have developed amnesia. We have forgotten that we are Christ-ian, that we are “in Christ,” and we need to recover this identity.
I’ve included some verses below which illustrate this sense of “in Christ.” You can find more by using your computer and doing a search on “in Christ.” You will be surprised and enlightened to discover all we are as people “in Christ.”
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
Rom 8:1; 8: 37-39; 12:4-5; 15:17; 1 Cor 1:2, 4; 1:30; 4:17; 15:22; 16:24; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 2:14; 5:17-21; Gal 3:26-29; Eph 1:1-3ff; 1:13-14; 2:6-10; 2:13; Phil 1:1; 3:8-9; 3:1; 4:7; 4:19; Col 1:28; 2:9-10; 1 Thes 5:16-18; 2 Tim 3:12; Philemon 1:6; 1 Peter 5:10-11;
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church in Moncton NB Canada. This letter published June 15, 2010. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at email@example.com. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com