Greek, Discipleship, and Making Injera
Have you ever eaten Ethiopian food? If so, then your hands have handled injera, the pancake-like staple used with most Ethiopian dishes.
Now, injera is extremely difficult to make properly, as Becky will quickly attest. Training by an expert is usually required. I once spoke with our Ethiopian son Fasil about this. He told me, "Papa B, there are four steps involved in becoming an injera maker. First, you watch a master make it. Then you help her. Then you do it yourself. Finally you teach others to make it." Fasil, being the excellent teacher that he is, went on to draw an analogy with the way Jesus taught His disciples.
Needless to say, the New Testament places a high premium on teaching, but not just any kind of teaching. Discipleship always involves training. And every believer is to be trained, not just a handful of ecclesiastics. Once we recognize that Jesus calls all of His followers to serve Him, the days of appealing to a call to "the" ministry will have ended.
And just how did Jesus train His disciples? In exactly the same way one learns how to make injera. They saw Him work, then they shared in the work, then they did it themselves, and finally they trained others. This is a time-tested pattern. It works, no matter what your area of service in the body of Christ might be. Once this biblical pattern begins to be practiced, I believe we will see even larger numbers of Timothys being trained by Pauls -- and not necessarily by taking them away from their homes and jobs and placing them in colleges and seminaries.
This weekend I'll be concentrating on "lay" training as I begin teaching a Greek class in a local church. Of course, the Bible draws no distinction between clergy and laity, even if our churches do. Every Christian is called to serve, and every Christian needs training to serve effectively. Certainly Greek is not a requirement for everyone; but for those who desire to tap into this wonderful resource I am always eager to make myself available to help. Actually, I am quite diffident about the location. The training may occur in a college setting or a local church setting or a home setting. Let training be available to all -- without fees for students and pay for teachers! Of course, Greek is no Open Sesame to biblical interpretation. Yet I cherish the hope that a reading knowledge of the language might drive us back towards New Testament principles.
So what's the point of training? It is to help us become more like our Master. And it is to equip us to serve Him skillfully. God warns us not to waste our talents. In the Gospels we find that Jesus was indeed a master teacher. He trained His disciples by pouring out His life into theirs and then asking them to pour out their lives into others. In so doing He made one thing abundantly clear: the kingdom of God is not comprised of kings and warriors but servants and children.
Jesus didn't goof on the process, either. Those who follow in the way of Christ are called to be trainees in the kingdom. This was true then, and it is true now.
April 14, 2011
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.