Putting Things in Order
Don’t you love it when you walk into your garage and the tool you need for today’s project is easily found because it is right where it is supposed to be? If we are entirely honest, such an occurrence is at times a rarity. It is quite easy for disarray to be present in our lives and all of us, myself included, have work to do in bringing order into this world. The idea is that we should be orderly because God is a God of order, not chaos. When He created the world everything functioned in perfect harmony together like a splendid musical, not as jumbling nonsense.
One of the calls to the church is to exhibit order in its life. The Apostle Paul actually left Titus in Crete so that he “might put what remained into order (Titus 1:5).” Part of this was appointing elders in each town so that the churches might have leadership just as Paul directed. Another pivotal issue at stake was silencing those who were proclaiming heretical doctrine aiming it directly at the churches (Titus 1:10-16). Titus needed to teach the truth and model good works before the brethren (Titus 2:1, 7-8). In the family, in the church, and in their individual lives Christians needed to be taught how to live according to the commands of God in good order. This is true not simply for the churches in Crete, but for every congregation. Of course, the natural question we are left with is what would it look like for a church to be out of order? That, my friends, is demonstrated to us through the very unhealthy church in Corinth.
To put it simply, the Corinthians were a mess, not just a mess, but the kind of mess that is icky, gooey, sticky, and hard to clean up. They were dividing off into factions claiming to follow certain Christian leaders thereby splitting off the congregation into different groups (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). It was reported accurately that they had sexual immorality in their midst of the kind that even the pagan gentiles would not have tolerated (1 Corinthians 5:1). When they had a dispute they were even taking it off to the unbelieving pagans to settle instead of dealing with sins against each other in the context of the congregation (1 Corinthians 6:1-11). Paul has to set them straight on the principles of marriage and singleness (1 Corinthians 7) while also helping them not be a stumbling block to one another (1 Corinthians 8). They were boasting of their superior gifting and so he communicates to them the humility of the perfect way of love (1 Corinthians 12-13). At the end of the day, the Corinthian church was broken down and in a state of disarray at every level.
When you look at the book of Titus, that young minister of Christ being called to put everything into order had an impact on every single realm of life. This is why you have teachings not only on the church but also regarding the family in that letter of Paul. It is also the precise reason why a church in meltdown mode like Corinth needed to be corrected in every realm of life. They were having family issues, individual issues, litigation issues, and church issues. In the middle of correcting their problems in worship, Paul instructs them:
“But all things should be done decently and in order.” -1 Corinthians 14:40
We cement the same issue home again, because God is orderly He should be worshipped in an orderly way. The same is true of our lives, they should be lived in a way which reflects His character. The Corinthian church was the opposite of this reality in which Scripture calls upon us to live. Titus was not in a situation where order was flourishing either, instead, he was called upon to bring it into the body of Christ by leading them in the grace of the Lord. In a fallen world, chaos is the normal state of affairs, not order. Therefore, we must learn to instill order for it shall not come naturally.
Orderly Congregations Orderly Christians
No matter who you are there is no doubt something that could be brought into greater order, submission, and alignment with the teachings of Christ. That is resoundingly true of all of us as human beings. The grace of God active by His Spirit in the Gospel brings order to the chaos. It stills the stormy waters of our hearts and souls filled with sin by transforming us in the image of Christ. The call to be orderly is a call to reflect the transformation brought into our hearts by the Gospel. This fact means that before we can talk about families and churches we must discuss individuals. Souls must be converted and seek to strive to live out the calling of the commandments of God. A man must learn to work with his hands and provide for his own household instead of stealing (1 Thessalonians 4:11 and 1 Timothy 5:8). The change that Christ has brought in his life leads him to put away the path of sin, stop wreaking havoc on others, and actually take dominion by developing a skill to bring blessing to his home and beyond. That is bringing order biblically speaking in a person’s soul!
Churches and families are made up of individuals. The key is for them to operate in accordance with God’s Word. Husbands must exercise headship leading their wives and loving them as the wives seek to live out biblical femininity to the praise of Christ. Children must obey their parents even as fathers and mothers strive to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Pastors and congregations must work together each seamlessly playing their role in the life of the bride of Christ. Deacons should serve well in their capacity for Jesus’s sake. Worship services should be both joyful and organized as the financial/administrative side of the church should be as well. The church should strive to bring order because God has called them to reflect who He is to a world lost in the chaos and depravity of their sin.
Our calling before God is to walk in enduring faithfulness. That means we must bring order by His grace to every area of life by submitting to Him in each sphere. Let that process begin first in our hearts and souls as we rest content in Christ each day. Out of an abundance of spiritual health and life, may He give us eyes to see the chaos both within and without that we may put it into order for His sake. I pray His power works within each one of us that we may take this action as a testimony to His character which is perfect in every way!