Here’s a lesson for the aspiring church leaders among you, increase in numbers doesn’t necessarily mean harmony.

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.” Acts 6:1-4 (The Message)

Do we live in isolated faith communities that find it hard to accomodate those who are different from them? Conforming to the expectations of the established group seems to be the way many churches operate. If a person comes to faith then, very soon, they learn the language and culture of the church in which they come to faith. I don’t think this is what Jesus intended his people to do! The apostles met with the disciples to try to sort out their issues. What should they do about the ‘Hellenist’ widows who were being treated as lesser Christians in the community? Well, they gave the responsibility of looking after everyone equally to others in the community. People that were recognized as being full of the Holy Spirit and good sense! Why was this such a requirement? Well, if these people were full of the Holy Spirit then they could accept the differences and treat everyone equally because that is the nature of our creator God. He cares for all equally and doesn’t need us to conform to a dominant culture of tribe or church. His kingdom is one of justice and peace for all who come and recieve it freely by his grace. If they also had good sense then they would not be so willing to give ground to the nonsense of their church.

So, may we be full of the Holy Spirit to accept the differences around us and see the breadth of God’s creative power in all and may we have the good sense to reject the nonsense that seeks to marginalize and conform others to its way. Amen.

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