Goody Two Shoes

Screen Shot 2016-10-15 at 9.10.12 AMBy John Frye

Let’s consider “what is good.” Is it a dimension of Christian witness and mission to seek the common good? Most of us at Jesus Creed (aka the One-T Saloon named for One-T Scot) would say “yes.” Where can we go to find God’s support for such a thing?

Open to the Book of Titus. A short book crammed with direction for Jesus followers to seek the common good. In the TNIV, the phrase “what is good” repeats seven, count them, seven times: 1:8; 2:3, 2:7, 2:14; 3:1, 3:8, and 3:14. Church leaders must love “what is good.” Women must teach “what is good.” Titus is to be an example doing “what is good.” The church within society is to do “what is good.” God’s people must devote themselves to “what is good.” Paul repeats in 3:14 “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good…”

Plain old goodness seems to be a disappearing aspect of USAmerican life, especially in all forms of media. Rancor, ill will, harsh words, and entrenched stubbornness reign supreme. The sad spin-out of civil non-goodness is the unhealthy poisoning of the church. We forget that our Founder and Lord was known as a person, who in the power of the Spirit, went around “going good” (Acts 10:38).

It might be in the best interest of the church and society for the church to reclaim what has become a pejorative title— “do gooders.” It’s time to put on our “goody two shoes.” No, I do not mean for the church to be snooty or holier than thou. Simply look at each situation in our day and ask, “What good can I do here?”

One very immediate and simple way to do good is practice this: “…always…be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:2 TNIV). When? Always. What? Be gentle. To whom? Everyone. Where’s the rancor? Where’s the balled fists? Where’s the “I’m right! You’re wrong!” shouting match? Neither Titus nor Timothy had an easy task in showing the church on Crete and in Ephesus the path to “doing what is good.” Paul exhorted Timothy to “gently instruct” those who opposed him (2 Timothy 2:25).

Paul assures Titus that this call to “what is good” is no soft, self-promoted agenda. Doing good is grounded in the renewing work of the Spirit of God Who makes us a new kind of human beings. The kind of human beings who “live upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 3:5; 2:12). Doing good consistently and counter-culturally the way Jesus did good may be costly. Yet, goodness in the midst of badness is like light in the darkness. Some may flee and others, drawn by the difference, may be curious. Goodness at its heart is God-like. Lots of cold water given in Jesus’ name may not spark bold headliners, but they may be more effective than huge stadium gospel crusades.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.