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The Scriptorium

Keeping Focused

Challenges to the Church continue.

Acts (6)
Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 6 and 7 (Lesson 6) by clicking here.

Read and meditate on Acts 6.1-4.
As we have seen, those first Christians were an extraordinary group of men and women – eager to learn, quick to share, bold, devout, prayerful. They stood out from their peers, and enjoyed the admiration of all the people (2.47). Well, not exactly all, as we shall see.

For reflection
1.  But these first Christians were still people, and therefore still capable of messing things up. I don’t see any indication of sin in this situation involving the widows; a “complaint” need not be construed as implying intentional wrongdoing or even anger, resentment, or the like. Had malice been involved, I think the apostles would have addressed it. Complaints are allowed, even in the household of faith. What are some things that might be worth complaining about in your church? What channels should you follow in issuing a complaint?

2.  The widows who were being overlooked were simply victims of poor management or a distribution system that needed revising in light of the growing ranks of disciples. It’s certainly understandable how this could have come about, given the rapid growth of the believing community. There was a problem, and it needed to be fixed. The peace of the community was disrupted, and it needed to be restored. Meditate on Romans 14.17-19. Keeping in mind that the church is a sign of the Kingdom, why would it have been important to set this situation right?

3.  To their credit, the people knew to come to the apostles rather than allow the situation to fester and create bad feelings. But the apostles, to their credit, understood that not every problem was their problem. The shepherds of the church are appointed for the oversight of the souls of the people (Heb. 13.17). The “tools of the trade” for this high calling are prayer, the Word of God, and the personal example of the minister (cf. 1 Pet. 5.1-3). How do the shepherds of your church watch over the souls of those entrusted to their care?

4.  “Serving tables” would have given the apostles the opportunity to employ the last of these disciplines, that of personal example, but doing so in this situation, in their estimation, would have compromised the other two. They rightly recommended an alternative course of action. What qualifications do they put forward for those who are to take up this work?

5.  Let’s not miss the significance of what’s happening here. Recall that the church was being carefully watched by the religious authorities, who still had an influential voice among the citizens of Jerusalem. Word would have come to them about this problem, which had the potential to splinter the church along ethnic or economic lines, and perhaps cause the whole movement to dissolve. Doubtless many of the priests, lawyers, scribes, and teachers were saying to themselves, “Now we’ll see that this is all a big hoax. They’ll be coming back to us in no time, once the ineptness of their leaders becomes clear.” Do you think your church, and the other churches in your community, are observed by the rest of your community? Why or why not?

The purpose of leaders is to lead, and the effectiveness of leaders is tried whenever crises or challenges arise. This is now the third challenge the apostles have had to deal with since the church in Jerusalem began to get organized in Acts 2. How would you assess the leadership skills they have evidenced thus far? What does how they have led – in Acts 3-6 – suggest about their understanding of the church in relation to the ongoing work of Christ?

Closing Prayer
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there the LORD commanded the blessing—
Life forevermore.

Psalm 133

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies in Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. For more insight into His work in our here and now, order the book,
The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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