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"During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers -- "Hellenists" -- toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. So the Twelve called a meeting of the disciples. They said, 'It wouldn't be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor. So, friends, choose seven men from among you whom everyone trusts, men full of the Holy Spirit and good sense, and we'll assign them this task. Meanwhile we'll stick to our assigned tasks of prayer and speaking God's Word.'
"The congregation thought that was a great idea." Acts 6:1-6a (The Message).
It had to happen sometime! However idyllic the early church appeared to be, the people were still ordinary people, with evidences of their "humanness" coming through now and then. How this "racist" attitude crept in we do not know. Perhaps there was another "rotten apple" in the box who deliberately side-lined the Hellenistic widows; perhaps it was a simple oversight; perhaps it was an administrative omission. Who knows?
However it happened, it caused ill-will which had to be corrected quickly before their unity was compromised. What a lesson for us! Protect unity which is a fundamental characteristic of a Spirit-led church and the Holy Spirit is free to move in the church and in the community.
Jesus set a great deal of store on unity. It was the zenith of His high priestly prayer in John 17. "'My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.'" John 17:20-21 NIV).
Why is oneness so important to God? God is one; He created us in His image to be one with Him and with one another. Unity of this nature is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit but it is our responsibility to guard and maintain unity in the Body. "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:3 (NIV).
A simple plan to delegate solved their problem and set the church back on course to be a witness to the unbelieving world that Jesus had come from the Father and that the Father loved them as He loved Him - (John 17:23).
The early church was a genuine product of "evolution" -- not an organisation with a set structure but a living organism that developed as it grew. Its function determined its leaders, and the gifts of individuals and the needs they met determined their ministries.
It is heartening to see how the apostles knew and protected their ministry from "needs" that could easily have crowded out their calling. Here was godly wisdom in operation. They knew what they had to do and were not so high-minded that they took on everything themselves instead of sharing the load with suitable people.
How many spiritual leaders fall into this trap! Pastors and ministers can be so insecure that they are afraid to delegate in case someone overshadows them and threatens their ministry. It is the person secure in God and in his or her calling and gifting that can develop a team of people who minster effectively because:
1. They do what they are called and gifted to do.
2. They are not doing what they don't like doing and are uncomfortable in.
3. They are able to develop their gifts and skills doing what brings them joy and fulfilment.
4. Many more people benefit from the wider ministry of the team.
5. The church experiences the power and blessing of unity.
The church is a not a game with most of the members sitting on the grandstand watching the experts play. It is a family in which everyone takes part in family life so that they can all grow up together.
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