Back to Ethiopia
As you may know, this week Becky and I, due to the sheer unmerited grace of God, are returning to Ethiopia at long last. Our purpose is very simple: to minister to others in the name of Jesus. Ministry has been given by Christ to the church. It is to be exercised in the church, for the church, and by the church. The goal is to equip the church as the servant of Christ in the world. In the footwashing in the Upper Room, Jesus Himself demonstrated this to His followers.
Will we miss fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters at Bethel Hill? You bet! But the corporate gathering of the church is not the fulfillment most churchgoers believe it to be. It is just the beginning. The gathering is merely the commissioning! How grateful Becky and I are to be part of a fellowship of Jesus-followers who emphasize the going as much as the gathering. The challenge now is to mobilize the full manpower and womanpower of the church for global evangelization.
Luther, Calvin, and the Anabaptists agreed that there is only one "divine vocation" for all Christians who accept their role as the people of God, and that is to minister for Christ in our various spheres of life. Becky is a fulltime housewife, and I am a fulltime Greek professor, but those are our jobs. Our business is the Gospel business -- fulltime, 24/7/365. In the New Testament, we find no fixed forms, organizational structures, or ranking of "fulltime professionals" in the church. Ministry belongs to the whole people of God. Christians are to be Christ's servants in all sectors of life. Under the direct leadership of the Head, the whole Body becomes a Christocentric fraternity penetrating the whole world (including our own neighborhoods) with the Good News. We are Jesus disciples, followers, learners, witnesses, workers, and, if need be, martyrs. Christ ascended for the specific purpose of "preparing God's people for works of service" (Eph. 4:7-12). It is unmistakably clear that the term "priest" as used in the New Testament does not refer to officiates in a church building but describes all Christians in every nation of the world in their role as the priesthood of all believers.
We leave for Africa with a promise burned deep into our hearts: "I am with you each and every day, even until the end of the age." Jesus promised His Holy Spirit to empower all believers to be His ambassadors in the world. That He should have chosen Becky and me -- we who are totally undeserving! -- to be His representatives is nothing short of miraculous. May He receive all the glory.
March 15, 2010
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.