A Better Way1
This proposal pleased the whole group ... So the word of God spread (Acts 6:5a, 7a).
I was in my second year of teaching. My students were third graders and we were off to a good start. One day a new girl joined our class. I didn't know why, but the kids didn't welcome her as I expected they would. Trying to make up for their cold shoulder, I paid extra attention to her.
It wasn't a good plan. All it did was cause the kids to resent her, thinking I was showing favoritism.
Had I known this scripture, perhaps I would have realized involving our whole little community would have been a much better way to bring about her inclusion.
Now I do know this scripture and I can't help but see our current upheaval in its light.
In the early days when God's community was growing fast, a complaint flared up. One ethnic group's leaders pointed out that their widows (representative of the powerless) were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. (Today it is the distribution of healthcare, housing, education, opportunity, justice, privilege—and food—that is the concern.)
The Twelve who had walked with Jesus took this complaint to heart and addressed it. Their proposal was that they would step back and let the rest chose seven men to take on this food-distribution responsibility. (In the meantime, the Twelve would give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word—and, of course, to practicing what they preached.)
The people took to this plan and chose the seven. The criteria they used were what the Twelve had specified: people known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.
These qualifications—so central to their success—indicate this was not a political process. The positions wouldn't be “won” with campaign speeches. Although we can't, therefore, directly transfer this idea to government, it does serve as a positive model for government. And for all sorts of communities dealing with all sorts of concerns.
The seven (7 representing completion or perfection) were then prayed for with laying on of hands. No one was expecting success would happen without God's help.
In this way their caring community became a living expression of their leaders' teaching. The surrounding citizens must have taken notice, for “So the word of God spread...”
Reflect on a time when it would have been wiser for you to work with others than try to fix something by yourself.
Speaking of distributing food—check out the CCC website for the Summer Nutritional Assistance for Chatham Kids opportunity.