In writing to his friend Titus, Paul gives us some insights into the nature of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus. As disciples of Jesus, we're commanded to make other disciples as we go about our regular lives and to teach these new disciples all that Jesus has taught us. Let's look at the way Paul begins his letter to Titus:
I, Paul, am a servant of God and have been appointed as an apostle by Jesus Christ for the sake of encouraging God’s people in their faith and in their knowledge of the truth which leads us into living godly lives. Our faith is a faith and understanding that rests in the hope of an eternal life that God has promised, and we have confidence in what He has promised because God does not lie. He has proven Himself over the course of history to be faithful and worthy of our trust. And now, He has made His promises even more clearly known through the gospel of Jesus Christ which I’ve been entrusted to preach. This letter is for you Titus, my spiritual son based on the faith that we share in common. I write you in grace and peace from God the Father and Christ our Savior. (A paraphrase of Titus 1:1-4)
Now, we ought to take notice of the way in which Paul refers to himself in his opening introduction. He refers to himself as a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. The word ‘servant’ here can also rightly be translated as ‘slave’. In declaring that he is a slave of God, Paul humbly acknowledges that true disciples are purchased, owned and directed by God.
The Bible declares that we are not our own because we have been bought with a price. That price was the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross paying the penalty of our sin. Christ didn’t die for us so that we can just go and live however we please. Like Paul says here in his introduction, the only appropriate response to what Jesus has so graciously done for us is to consider ourselves as servants of God who are pleased to do what pleases Him.
If someone picks up the tab at a nice dinner, are you not grateful for their generosity and now find yourself wanting to do something to bless them in return? How much more grateful ought we to be for the one who has generously paid for the price of our sin against a holy and just God who had to be paid in full?
Next, Paul refers to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. In declaring the he is an apostle of Christ, Paul expresses the unique authority that’s been given to him in relation to other believers. An apostle was a unique calling by Christ to be one of His inspired messengers. So this letter is no ordinary teaching; this is God-given authority to speak on behalf of Christ Himself. And so the challenge for Paul’s original readers and the challenge for us today is to recognize this authority and therefore work out the implications of what Paul has taught.
Do we simply approach the Bible looking for inspiration in life or do we open it up sincerely looking for direction in life recognizing that these words are Divine words spoken on behalf of Christ Himself and given to us so that we may grasp the true meaning of life and discover the true purpose of our existence?
A true Christian must see himself as a disciple of Jesus. There must be a desire in us to grow in our understanding of who God is and what He has done for us. How can we claim to love Someone that we may hardly know or claim to love Someone that we may have a little desire to know better? Can we truly claim to love Jesus if there’s no desire to learn more about Him and live like Him?
The apostle Paul served as a model to Titus as he showed him what it's like to be a servant of God, and he served as a mentor to Titus as he taught him God's Word through his authority as an apostle. This is the nature of the discipleship relationship - a model and mentor who teaches someone how to be a model and mentor for someone else. If we as followers of Jesus are devoting our lives to actually being disciples of Jesus then we will more than likely find ourselves with a mentor (one who teaches us) and disciples (those whom we teach). An absence of either of these types of relationships will significantly hinder our spiritual growth and rob us of the riches of spiritual maturity (Colossians 2:2-3).