Acts 6:1-7 (Cont.)
3. The Principles
a) Issues of unity must be dealt with immediately and sensitively.
I love the fact that the apostles did not try to cover up the problem. Neither did they try to solve it behind closed doors. When the unity of the body of Christ is threatened it ought to be dealt with immediately. Notice also that the apostles are sensitive. They don’t immediately try to assign blame. In THIS case there was plenty of blame to go around. We must not sit idly by while the unity of Christ’s body is threatened.
b) The church’s shepherds must give priority to the ministries of God’s Word and prayer.
Those charged with the task of shepherding the church must not be taken away from their primary calling. The shepherd is not the church’s CEO. He is not the top manager. His job is to feed God’s flock; to intercede for God’s flock. When Jesus re-instituted Peter into service He asked him three times, “Do you love me.” Jesus’ response to Peter’s thrice affirmation was not to say, “Manage my sheep” or “Make a name for yourself.” Jesus’ charge to Peter was “feed my sheep.” It is the same call that all pastor’s must follow.
c) The church must follow Scripture’s guidelines in selecting its leaders and servants.
The church needs godly leaders and servants. Scripture tells us what is expected in both life and character from the church’s leaders and servants.
d) The church must not divide along cultural lines.
The vast majority of churches in our day seem to be unable to transcend cultural differences. There are churches that are predominantly blue collar, while others are predominantly white collar. There are white churches and black churches and Asian churches and Latino churches. There are urban churches and suburban churches. These are not legitimate theological lines being drawn. These are divisions based upon the fact that we simply want to be around people who are just like us.
The Jewish Christians that were Hebrew in cultural outlook didn’t want to mix much with the Hebrew Christians that were more Greek in cultural outlook. Perhaps we need to think of our corporate gatherings as times when we are learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.”
4. The Result
Because the threat against the church’s unity was addressed…
Because the shepherds did not allow themselves to be distracted from their calling to be men of the Word and prayer…
Because the entire congregation was engaged to work together toward a God-honoring solution…
“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.”
Even Jewish priests were being converted to Christ. The unlikeliest of people were coming to Christ.
The church is a community formed around a message. That message is the Gospel. That is why the ministry of the Word of God is the primary responsibility for the church’s shepherds. It is through the proclamation of the Gospel that the church is formed and built up. We must continually preach the gospel to ourselves and each other because it is not only the message that saves but it is the message which continues to shape our lives a Christians.
Where there are divisions we must hear the Gospel – the message of how God, through Jesus has broken down the dividing wall between us.
Where there have been offense we must hear the Gospel – the message of how God, through Jesus has forgiven us of the offense of our sin and rebellion.
Where there is estrangement between brothers and sisters we must hear the Gospel – the message of how God, through Jesus has reconciled us to Himself.