In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.Acts 6:1-7 NIV
The church in Jerusalem was facing a crisis. The harmony of the body was being disrupted by internal dissention. The earliest church was pretty much exclusively Jewish. But even among the Jews there were cultural differences. Some of them had grown up in a Jewish culture. But others were from the surrounding countries and had adopted the Greek culture. And that cultural difference was at the heart of the dissension. The Hellenized (Greek culture) Jews felt like their widows were being short changed at the food bank. If that sounds familiar, it is because it is an age-old problem. The home town folks wanted to be sure their people were cared for before turning to outsiders.
With, I believe, the Holy Spirit’s direction, the leadership of the church proposed a solution to the problem and saw that it was implemented. A solution that resolved the dissension and saw harmony restored. I think that it is interesting, and probably instructive, that the seven men chosen to oversee the food distribution all seemed to be from the group that was complaining. At least their names would indicate that.
The last verse here seems to be the result of having taken corrective action. Instead of the body being torn apart, it becomes even stronger. Conflict within the church is definitely going to hinder the sowing of the seed and the resultant harvest. Don’t allow problems to fester and grow, distracting the church from the work God has given us to do. Resolving them may be hard and challenging, but the cost of not doing so is great. If there is dissension, be willing to allow God to use you in resolving it.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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