Last night I started reading the South African comedian Trevor Noah’s memoir Born A Crime, in which he details various aspects of his childhood. One of the things I found most fascinating about his life is his mastery of language. I don’t mean that in a romantic literary sense, I mean he is a polyglot and can speak eight languages.
And that got me thinking about what following Jesus should actually look like. “I’m sorry, what?!” I hear you cry! It’s quite the leap to go from Trevor Noah speaking eight languages to being a disciple of Christ. Well Noah took heed of the languages being spoken around him as he grew up, as he understood their importance in fitting in an Apartheid South Africa. Likewise, understanding the language the Bible uses as we grow up as disciples is important for our fitting in the Kingdom.
Now, I must confess I am mixing metaphors – I’m not for a second suggesting we need to learn Greek or Hebrew to be disciples. But I am suggesting that we should take heed of the words and ideas the Bible uses (i.e. its language) when describing how we are related to God – even if it feels alien to us.
In the evening service on Sunday, Stephen was preaching from the beginning of Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and he talked about Paul’s greeting to the church in Philippi, whereby Paul calls himself a ‘doulos’, a slave of Christ. Living in a 21st century liberal democracy, the idea of us being a slave of something or someone seems totally at odds with the freedoms we experience on a daily basis. And yet, we are called to be slaves to Christ.
What does being a slave to Christ look like on a day to day basis? Well trying to find out the answer to that question is, certainly step one. Step two is to take heart at the fact Trevor Noah didn’t learn eight languages overnight.