Today's Bible Reading: Acts 6
Selected Biblical Text
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 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. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word."
And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. 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. (Acts 6:1-7, ESV)
Reflecting and Thinking
The new problem that the church faces in today's chapter is internal and multi-faceted. In every church, there are lots of people in the church with lots of needs. There is jealously and complaining. Differences are emphasized. There exists a sense of inequality. In Acts 6, there is the danger that the apostles will become distracted from their primary task. The church must clearly establish its priorities or the daily pressures of life will overwhelm it.
In the early church, the problem is solved by selecting servants who are given responsibility for the task. The result is that the word of God continues to spread, the number of disciples increases, and more are converted from Judaism, even from among the priests.
Note: because the Greek word can be translated as servant, minister, and deacon, it is difficult to know how to describe the Seven. I have chosen not to translate as "deacon" because of the varied official meanings of that word in modern church organization.
When you have been aware that a church problem was resolved successfully? What factors contributed to the positive result? Do you think the church today is distracted by problems and its failure to establish priorities? Based on this chapter, what priorities did the early church choose?
Father God, we pray for the ability to move forward in the midst of distractions and difficulties. Help us to establish right priorities in our individual lives and in the church. Help us to learn from your word so that our lives and the lives of others are changed. In the name of Jesus, Amen.