Thursday, February 16, 2012

Acts 6:5-7

Summary retelling of Acts 6:5-7:

The assembled group chose 7 men from among them to take up the task of managing the needs of the people.  The apostles then appointed them and prayed over them.  Once the issue was settled, the work of spreading the Gospel was able to resume and we hear again that the number of people converting to Christianity was on the rise – even Temple priests were beginning to convert.

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
I’m going to tell you something today that unless you a student of Greek and Hebrew history you could never know from the text.  Stephen was a good Hebrew name.  But the other 6 who are selected have names derived from Greek origin.  Thus, it is likely that of the seven people chosen, 6 of them were not native inhabitants to Jerusalem.  That’s pretty powerful if you think about it.  The problem was that the non-native widows were being overlooked.  So to solve the problem, the church selected a bunch of non-native leaders.  It makes brilliant sense.

On the other hand, from a human perspective, it makes no sense.  Human beings tend to want to maintain control.  We tend to want to be in charge and put people in charge who will “accomplish what we think is best for us.”  It really says something about a church that was predominantly made up of Jerusalem-based Hebrew speaking Jews to be willing to elect a bunch of “outsiders” to tackle this very important ministry.  It really shows us that the first attempt at church was not a church focused on power hunger and control.

How much do you see “power” and “control” influencing your church?  How do you see it?  How can we fight against this in the church?

Second Thought:
The apostles then prayed over the seven.  They genuinely desired them to be successful.  But even more importantly they genuinely desired God to use them.  They weren’t worried about establishing another set of leaders with whom they might lose control or have to compete against.  They wanted to put themselves in a position to obey God’s will.

How important is it to seek your spiritual mentor’s approval (of course, not above God’s approval)?  Why can it be important to have the blessing of a spiritual mentor?

Third Thought:
The church continued to grow – even Temple priests began to convert.  This is no small statement.  A Temple priest is no insignificant figure in Judaism.  You had to be of a certain lineage to be a priest.  The fact that the early Christians had access to the priests and that the priests were willing to listen is remarkable.

Imagine actually being able to be a part of the process of a spiritual leader from another faith converting into Christianity.  (Of course, God gets the credit.)  What do you think God would want you to do to prepare yourself for that possibility?  What things do you need to do as His disciple to prepare?  So what’s stopping you from doing that?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 6:8-10
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