Christmastime Day One
December 26, 2018
By Elaine Friedrich
Written by Rex Harper
We’re All In This Together
In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:1-7
When we read the description of the early church, actually the “mother church,” we may wish we could have been a part of this “perfect” church and participated in the miracles, the sharing, the generosity, and the fellowship. In reality, the early church had problems just as we do today.
This scripture tells about an internal problem in the early church following Pentecost. The problem came about “in those days when the number of disciples was increasing, (and) the Greek speaking Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.”
The Grecian Jews, Greek-speaking Christians, were probably Jews from other lands who were converted at Pentecost. These Greek speaking Christians complained that their widows were being unfairly treated in the daily distribution of food. This claim of favoritism was most likely unintentional, as are most church problems. It was probably caused by the language barrier between the Hebraic-speaking and Greek-speaking Jews. “So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.’”
To correct the problem, the apostles ask the Greek-speaking members of the church, “Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom” (people who carry heavy responsibilities and work closely should have these qualities). The apostles would give the responsibility of daily food distribution to the seven selected Greek-speaking members of the church and in turn continue their work of attending to prayer and the ministry of the word. This solved the problem and allowed the apostles to keep their focus on teaching and preaching the Good News about Jesus.
The apostles’ priorities were correct. The ministry of the Word should never be neglected because of administrative burdens. Pastors should not try, or be expected to try, to do everything. Instead, the work of the church should be spread out among its members. Each person, each member of a church has a vital part to play in the life of the church (see 1 Corinthians 12).
If you are in a position of leadership and find yourself overwhelmed by responsibilities, you need to evaluate your God-given abilities and priorities and then find others to help. If you are not in leadership, you have gifts that can be used by God in various areas of the church’s ministry and should offer your gifts in service to God. However, that’s unfortunately not how human nature often works, is it? No; instead, human nature dictates that we complain that one thing or another isn’t getting done or done the way we would like for it to be done at church (the way it used to be done, the way you would like for it to be done, or not done at all)!
The question we all need to ask ourselves is “What can I do to make your church better?” Remember that a church does not have to perfect to be faithful! As a matter of fact, no church is perfect. We must look for wise and spiritually mature men and women to lead our church because spiritual leadership is serious business and must never be taken lightly by the church or its leaders.
Now, what does this have to do with Christmastime? Ask yourself, what gifts do you or can you bring to God? Start by reading, or re-reading 1 Corinthians 12, and pray for God’s discernment of your Spiritual gifts. Then during Christmastime, bring your gifts to His altar and ask God to use you in His service. In doing so, we will be a part of the miracles, the sharing, the generosity, and the fellowship of God’s church!