I love cartoons. Although the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies were movie theater features a few generations before I was born, television made them readily available. Even now, my DVD case is home to a few collections of these cartoon classics.
I always love it when Bugs Bunny would speak to the movie goers regarding his antics (“Ain’t I a stinka?”). One time, Bugs said, “did you ever get the feeling that you were being watched?” The play on reality is fun, because here is a fictional character feeling that he is being watch by a world beyond his own. It always makes me chuckle. But in the spiritual world, this takes on a more sober tone.
We Are Being Watched
It is important for Christians to realize that we are being watched. At a universal level, of course, God watches us all; and truth be told, we do not surprise Him, because he knows all things – even our very concerns (Prov. 15.3; Matt. 6.8).
There are, however, many other eyes watching us. For example, Dan Merchant, in his Emergent-friendly movie, Lord, Save Us from Your Followers (2008), has a segment where he asks random people about “Jesus” and “Christians”. In general, people “liked” Jesus, but often expressed negative feelings about “Christians”. Why? The “Christians” were charged with behavior inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.
Is this really new? No. Jesus spoke of the Jewish leaders of his day who sat in “Moses’ seat” in the synagogues teaching the Scriptures (and additional back breaking traditions), but they did not practice what they taught (Matt. 23.1-4). Even Paul spoke about the condemnation of those who condemn others for their sinful behavior, while at the same time practicing “the very same thing” (Rom. 2.1).
Moreover, a reading of the New Testament letters demonstrates that the early Christians were constantly reminded to maintain their Christian living consistent with the calling of the gospel (Eph. 4.1-3, 17, 5.1-2, 8, 15-21). In fact, 1 Corinthians is a classic example that Christians can struggle –even fail drastically– to apply godly principles in their lives.
The reality is quite simple: Christians are people too. If we take the Divine Word at its Word, then Christians are sinners too (Rom. 3.23). However, if we are going to be maligned, the Scriptures teach that it is not supposed to be because we are hypocrites (1 Pet. 4.12-16). Any social distress we incur should be because we will not live immorally (1 Pet.4.1-6). We are to “owe no one anything, except to love each other” (Rom. 13.8).
Paul’s Letter to Titus and Hypocrisy
In the early 60’s of the first century, Paul wrote to an evangelist named Titus, laboring on the large Mediterranean island of Crete that had been morally eviscerated by the Greek philosopher Epimenides (6th century BC): “Cretans are always liar, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Tit. 1.12). Six hundred years later, Titus still needed to be aware of philosophical decedents of this description in the church (Tit. 1.13-15).
In Titus, Paul addresses a serious problem with those who would degrade Christ’s teaching in the following words:
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (1.16)
Claiming an allegiance to God (“know God”) cannot exist purely, or correctly, when our actions (or, “expressions”, “deeds”) renounce Him.
In fact, such individuals are suffering from spiritual malignancies; consequently, their abilities are hampered and their deeds are equally deficient. Paul uses the following three words to describe these failures:
(1) They are Detestable
The Greek term bdeluktos translated “detestable ones” is a heavy description. In fact, an expanded translation would be this: they who “should never even be seen”. Those who claim to represent God but lie are thus “abominable” and “vile”.
(2) They are Disobedient
Such Christians are regarded as rebels against God (Grk. apeitheis). This stems from the fact that they were never completely persuaded by God’s grace and redemption in Christ.
(3) They are Unfit
The last segment of the verse reads, “for every work – the good kind – [they are being] adokimoi.” Adokimoi carries the meaning of, “failing to meet the test, disqualified; worthless, corrupted (mind)” (Newman 4). They lack the qualities to engage in good works. They are spiritual failures.
This is not just a “false teacher” problem; instead, Paul writes to Titus that he must teach the Christians in Crete to live according to “sound doctrine” (Tit. 2.1ff). It is not enough to say, “I am a Christian.” Anyone can say that. Christian living is just that, it is living out the teaching of God before a world of onlookers.
- Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, 1996, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Society), 25.188.
- Louw and Nida 36.24; Barclay M. Newman, 1993, Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (Germany: United Bible Society), 18; Rudolf Bultmann, 1964-c1976, “Apeithes”, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by G. Kittel, G.W. Bromiley, and G. Friedrich (Electronic ed.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans), 6:10.
- William E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr., 1984, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tenn.: Nelson), 2:173
- Newman, 1993, 4.
- Barnes, Leon. 2004. “To the Pure All Things are Pure.” BibleCourses.com. Accessed: March 2011.
- Jackson, Wayne. 2007. Before I Die: Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus. Stockton, Calif.: Courier Publications.
- Payes, Jovan. 2011. “Somebody is Watching Me (2).”