By Joe McKeever, Preacher, Cartoonist, Pastor, and retired Director of Missions at the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans.
Coming tomorrow: Interview with a former Calvinist, part 1.
A most unusual thing happened. A church found itself with an internal problem, and no one blamed the preachers.
Now, at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. And the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. But select from among you, brethren, seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will devote ourselves to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:1-4)
Dissension rent the congregation, and no one blamed the preachers. When the preachers offered a solution, no one protested that the apostles were being autocratic. No one argued when the disciples insisted that others should deal with this issue in order for them to keep to their priority: the word of God. No one enlarged the spiritual qualifications to include their pet peeves about deacons. The congregation followed the lead of the pastors, the pastors held to their priorities, the congregation chose seven godly men, and the matter was dealt with beautifully.
Amazing, ain’t it?
And the statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:5-6)
No one seemed to mind that all seven of the men were men. No one seemed to mind that all seven of the names are Greek, indicating that the congregation chose these men from the minority group that had caused the ruckus in the first place. An incredibly mature act.
No one protested that, after selecting them, the congregation then brought them to the disciples (the apostles) for their approval. The disciples prayed for guidance from the Lord, apparently received it, then “laid hands on them,” the equivalent of ordaining them.
No one seemed to protest. What a strange church. A problem arises and they meet it head on. There is no protesting, no rebelling against spiritual leadership, no insistence on “my rights,” no need to alter the recommendation, and no delay. There is unity, love, and submission.
No wonder outsiders wanted in on this.
And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:7)
Question: How long has it been since your church solved an internal problem with such swiftness and sweetness that outsiders were impressed and wanted to join?
This edited article was originally posted at joemckeever.com and is reposted here by permission of the author.