Gracious Lord, enable me to rest in You, to work for You, and to become more and more like You.
Read Acts 6:1-7
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
It is a pity to see this passage simply as a description of the creation of the office of deacons because, quite apart from the fact that it is not clear that an “office” is being created here, such a reading misses the central point of this text. We have already seen how the integrity of the new community was threatened by corruption and greed. Here, a new danger appears in the shape of cultural and ethnic divisions. Luke’s reference to a “daily distribution of food” suggests that, sometime after Pentecost, the sharing that was present from the start has become a regular part of church life. This daily care of widows reflects God’s concern for people in need—as revealed throughout the Old Testament (Deut. 26:12).
However, this practice became the source of tension when one group believed that another was receiving preferential treatment! The phrase “Grecian Jews” (1) refers to those who came from outside Palestine and were at home in Hellenistic culture, using the Greek language rather than Aramaic. Native Aramaic-speaking Jews were inclined to regard themselves as more truly Israelite, uncontaminated by the alien customs and practices of the pagan, Greek world.
How often have cultural, ethnic and racial tensions threatened to divide the people of God! The real lesson from the story, however, relates to the response of the apostles. They do not ignore or dismiss the complaints from the Hellenist believers, but take steps to ensure that just and loving practice is preserved within the community. Significantly, the seven who are chosen to administer the program all have Greek names (5): instead of appointing token Hellenists to the group charged with ensuring justice, the whole operation is given over to representatives of those who had suffered discrimination.
Read James 1:14-27. Evaluate yourself and your church in the light of James’ statement. Develop a plan of action to correct anything you see not meeting the standard set by James.
Gracious Lord Jesus, I confess I am most comfortable with people just like me. Give me the courage and commitment to be more like these early Christians.
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