Tuesday, September 15, 2009
In All Things, Charity
But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.
In the days when the early church was growing by leaps and bounds, when miracles were being performed, when many were being saved, people started complaining. Doesn't that sound like today?
You see, the devil tried to stop the church through persecution. But instead of arresting its development, he helped the church get on with the job of being what God called it to be. Rather than cowering in fear, the church became a lean, mean, preaching machine. Next, Satan tried to infiltrate the church through two blatant hypocrites, Ananias and Sapphira. We know how God dealt with them. Then the devil tried to stop the church through division—divide and conquer. He slipped into its ranks, and people started complaining about the smallest things.
At issue in the first century church were cultural differences. Greek culture was prevalent because of the conquest of Alexander the Great. And after the Romans conquered the Greeks and effectively bludgeoned the world into submission, they adopted much of the Greek culture, its language, and even some of its religion. Therefore, Greek influence was very strong in the ancient world of the New Testament.
Some widows in the church were Jews who spoke Greek and probably had been raised outside of Jerusalem. Having returned to the Holy Land, they were mixing with what might be described as old-school Hebrews. So basically, the church had a culture clash.
And we still have the same problem today. Every generation has the musical style and dress they prefer. They have certain cultural mores they think are important. Sometimes they are based on a biblical concept, and other times they are simply personal preferences. But the church should never divide over these things. As theologian Philipp Melanchthon stated, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
Copyright © 2009 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
- This life will have its sorrows
- God loves us
- Jesus weeps in our times of pain
- God can be glorified through human suffering
Hope for Hurting Hearts, Pastor Greg Laurie's new book, examines these truths, revealing God's love and care for us, and shows how we can find hope, even in the midst of the most unbearable pain and sorrow.