PASSAGE: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:11-14 NRSV).
QUESTION: My boyfriend and I have different beliefs about God, the Bible, and just about anything to do with spirituality. In our four years of dating, I have just avoided the subjects because gets very judgmental and sarcastic and insinuates that I'm "going to hell" because I don't believe what he believes. I haven't read much of the Bible, don't understand what I have read of it, and I don't feel bad about this. I do try to live in a manner that is respectful of myself and others. I pray for others as well as myself, I tithe when I feel I can afford to (though I understand that tithing should not be emotional—I'm not "there" yet). This scripture is one that my boyfriend quoted last night during our heated debate, and I just wondered what it really means ... I believe it means something beyond it's appearance. Thank you.
COMMENT: In the Bible there is always a deeper meaning beneath the surface words; that's what makes it scripture. In this passage, that deeper meaning concerns the Christ—the Presence of God in each and all of us. This is what Paul describes in Colossians (1:26-27) as "the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations ... Christ in you, the hope of glory." This Christ Presence—"the grace of God"—first became manifest in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. In his teaching and example, we learn that we, too, are to express our innate Christ nature—"What I have done, you will do," Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John—by setting aside old beliefs in duality and limitation and making new choices that are "controlled, upright and godly." By following the example of Jesus we become one with him in Christ consciousness—"zealous for good deeds" and eager to make the loving choices, and find the loving relationships, that will allow us to be the Second Coming of the Christ.