AA Milne wrote a charming story of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet plotting to expose Kanga and her baby Roo. They would infiltrate Kanga’s house by Piglet impersonating Roo, and at the right moment say “Aha!” The plot doesn’t go according to plan, and as a result, Piglet gets a vigorous bath, his brown skin (or is that felt?) turning a pale pink colour as all the dirt and mud of Piglet’s daily living is scrubbed off. At the end of the story, Piglet escapes Kanga’s house: “Never had piglet run so fast as he ran then and he didn't stop running until he had got quite close to his house. But when he was 100 yards away he stopped running, and rolled the rest of the way home, so as to get his own nice comfortable colour again…”
The grace of God is not simply an opportunity for a clean slate that can be dirtied again. Titus 2:12 says that grace is a teacher. It teaches us to say no to our muddy selfishness and continue saying no, rather than rolling in the mud again. As God’s kindness and generosity is revealed to us, we learn how to be kind and generous towards others. For the Cretans, unselfish kindness and self-sacrifice would have been a new concept and possibly a shock. The model of Christ was a lesson in how to be different. The model of the Christians in turn was to instruct their neighbours and friends that it was possible to be different. The letter reflects “we too, were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved”, but the changed life demonstrates that this is possible for others, too. Our story of failure and God’s forgiveness and renewal is a model for others. Grace is a teacher. When you are wondering how on earth someone or something can be changed, remember that the unconditional kindness and generosity of God in you is a teacher to others.
Read more in this reflection on Titus from pastor Jude Waldron.