God’s relief has shown up, rescuing everyone, coaching us to give up godlessness and temporal concerns so that while we’re waiting for the wondrous hope of God and Jesus’ return we may live moderate, ethical, and religious lives. Jesus gave himself to us to rescue us from our propensity for evil, and to create a community dedicated to doing pure good.
The irony of this passage is that it’s about making sure everyone fits into the temporal expectations that Christians lead moderate, ethical, and religious lives. Which is the very thing Jesus came to call into question.
Jesus himself was never so concerned with purity as the Pharisees and the Pharisaical folks who co-opted the Jesus movement a couple generations later (and still claim to speak for Christians in much of the press).
Still, the community is not so far gone by the time Titus was written to have lost the collective memory that it was founded on the principle of doing good and renouncing what’s not.
But the relief Jesus showed up coaching his community to enact wasn’t according to any commonly accepted ethical convention. Nor was it moderate. Nor was it necessarily religious. You don’t get crucified for being a moderate and keeping your head down. In fact, moderates are very seldom even remembered. It’s the radicals and the reactionaries who end up in the news and on the crosses.
Incarnation, if you’re reading this just before Christmas, is as much about our living as it is about Jesus’ having lived. God’s relief has shown up. But, as it turns out, this time around that relief is you and me.