Scientists studying the origins of the universe use tools and models to peel back the veil of time in order to observe the conditions that existed when matter/energy cohered in ways foreign to how they are known to behave today. Using the broader Titus 3 passage as a lens , we peer back into a time when philanthropy was the province of the gods and philanthropy/Christianity intermingled and interacted in a way that would be recognizable by few in modern time:
1Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4But when the kindness of God our Savior and His [philanthropy] for mankind appeared, 5He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men (Titus 3:1-8, NASB).
In this text of primordial Christianity, one leader encourages another to raise up believers poised at all times for philanthropy–comprehensive, direct, beneficent, unwarranted, unwavering friendship relationships with all people.
Paul explains that prior to becoming believers we used to hate and be hated by others, but the philanthropy of God saved us and changed all that: God was in no way moved by our ill-conceived efforts at goodness but rather freed us from such efforts, inviting us instead to receive his comprehensive goodness toward us and mirror that–God’s distinct brand of philanthropy–into the world.
(Excerpted from my forthcoming book, The Whole Life Offering: Christianity as Philanthropy, scheduled for release in January 2011.)