Paul told Titus why he left him on the Island of Crete. There were two reasons. The first reason is so that he might “set in order” what hadn’t been “set in order” yet. The root word from which the phrase “set in order” comes from is orthoo (or-tho-o). We get the medical specialties of orthodontics and orthopedics from that word. It literally means to make straight. Orthodontists straighten teeth, or put them in their proper order. Orthopedics is the setting of broken bones, or straightening of bent limbs. Apparently the church on Crete had some crooked teeth and some broken or malformed bones.

To push this analogy beyond the reasonable, the crooked teeth that needed to be “put in order” were those church members or teachers who refused to submit to the authority of the Apostles’ teachings or to the Apostles’ appointments of qualified leaders in the churches on the Island of Crete. They had their own agendas and caused great turmoil. Paul goes on to add a second reason for leaving Titus on the Island of Crete: that he “appoint elders in every church.” I could go on to push the analogy further and say that the “broken bones” in the church in Crete were those unqualified, self-appointed leaders who rejected apostolic authority and taught their opinions as doctrines of God causing great cacophony amongst the believers in the church. They were making disciples of their own personal opinions rather than making disciples of Jesus Christ. They added a system of works that confused the very Gospel message of salvation by grace through faith. This always results in division in the church and destroys the wonderful intended life of harmony amongst the believers of Jesus Christ.

Nothing functioned the way it should. The church looked like a mouth full of crooked teeth, uncooperative with order of God’s intended design. The church looked like a body with all it’s bones out of joint, a grotesque perversion of God’s creative order. God is a God of order. There is a rhythm in everything God created. You see it in the movement of the planets and stars, in seasons, in the beauty of the flowers of the field, in the surf of the sea, the beat of the human heart. God put all creation in perfect harmonious order. When we get out of tune, trouble results, strife erupts. Paul told the Romans and all the churches from their day to ours to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).

“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 1 Corinthians 1:10