Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number… that’s a good thing. We know from just the event at Pentecost 3,000 were added to rolls of Jesus followers and every chapter of Acts after that records more and more – even multitudes! So it’s no big surprise that the day to day operations are starting to get complicated.
One of the most positive attributes of the new church has been their generosity toward any among them who were in need. Seems they had a system going but it is having some issues in serving the widow population.
The murmuring is coming from the Hellenists and is directed at the Hebrews. Hellenists were likely Jews who lived among the Greeks, who spoke Greek and studied the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) in their synagogues. The Hebrews were the Jews of Palestine. They spoke and studied the original language and were close to the temple – in other words, the homeboys. Whether or not there was genuine discrimination going on it is easy to imagine these two groups might have differing viewpoints and some scratchy areas between them.
To resolve the problem the apostles call a meeting of the full number of the disciples. We just considered what that number might be – a lot. So you might say it was a church –wide meeting and the apostles are there to lay out the correction plan. (What I truly love about their approach is they provide some leadership direction but charge the others with the application of it. The weight of the work falls to the body.) And glory be – everybody liked their idea!
A couple of points of interest:
“It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables”, so said the apostles. This does not mean serving tables was beneath them. It means they have already been given a clear calling by God and the place they are to use their gifts. It would dilute the vitality of the church to have them try to do it all.
Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. Brothers – equals – you pick those who are gifted and willing and qualified to serve in this ministry. Take a look at the qualifications the men they chose had: good repute, full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith. I mean, even, Ruth Chris doesn’t have standards like this for its waiters. (God has given each member of the body gifts to be used. How can I encourage people to try their wings?)
These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. The job before these men was a great responsibility. No one took it lightly nor did they find this task somehow “unspiritual”. It was, in fact, spiritual work. (Do I see every task and every job as a ministry unto the Lord? Do I honor those who have taken them on with that appreciation and affirm them in their calling/service?)
Problem solved. (There will indeed be problems that threaten the unity of the body of Christ but through God’s wisdom they can be resolved. Part of that resolution is the willingness of each of us to use our gifts to serve one another.)
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
He has structured the church to work like a body…everyone having a vital part to play.
All work is spiritual work.
About the World?
The power of heaven is visible when unlikely forces come to unity.