It was a matter of life and death. Literally.
Make no mistake about this: As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, these “rumblings of discontent,” as Luke characterized them, represented anything but some small-time, garden variety, trivial church-squabble.
What happened here in Acts 6 exposed a clash of cultures that tore asunder the awe-inspiring oneness heretofore enjoyed by the Jerusalem Christian Community.
You might remember what we observed as recently as at the end of Acts 4.
Verse 32, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
Not any more!
Now, sadly, at the beginning of Acts 6, that blessed unity coupled with their selfless generosity Was.No.More.
Something had changed.
Their fellowship fractured. Their unity dissolved into disunity. A rift developed that literally rent the fragile fabric of unity completely in half.
Again, at the risk of sounding redundant, I must stress two vitally important points before I immerse you in the nitty-gritty of what exactly was going on here.
FIRST: We make a grave error of interpretation and application of Acts 6 if we view this not-so-exemplary episode as just the first of the kinds of common conflicts that characterize so many church squabbles and skirmishes today.
This was not some intramural argument about what style of music we should have in our worship services, or the color of carpet we should install in the new Fellowship Hall. You know—the kinds of stuff over which churches so frequently split these days.
Again, this was literally a matter of life and death. The lives of the most vulnerable of these first committed Christ-followers were in jeopardy, not because of external persecution.
SECOND: Please understand that this church fight exposed an internal underlying clash of cultures that was far more serious than we might realize.
On the surface of things, a casual reader might merely relegate this Acts 6 kerfuffle to growing pains—too many people added to the church in too short a time. Rapid growth that resulted in a first-of-its-kind food-fight within hallowed halls of that first century church. Because conflict certainly does involve growth and food. But dig a little deeper and we’ll discover that growth and food were merely symptoms of a potentially deadly disease that threatened to rot the soul of this newly-founded church.
Now listen carefully: Believe it or not, this conflict involved the exact same clash of cultures that we as committed Christ-followers are attempting to navigate even today.
It is Today as it was Then.
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God bless you richly as you listen.