In their book All Together Different, Brian Tucker and John Koessler note that being a culturally diverse community does not come easily. “Our well-meaning naïveté does not prepare us for the common irritation and emotional exhaustion that comes with dealing with our differences. The expectation that we are basically on the same page with those who are not like us keeps us from preparing to face our differences.”
One of the first conflicts in the fledgling church involved ethnic prejudice. Believers in the church’s majority culture overlooked the needs of those from a different cultural background. Differences in language, cultural style, and perhaps even dietary preferences may all have contributed to their widows being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
The Apostles took this problem seriously and appointed a group to address it. The standards for those who would be selected to handle this matter were high. Their names suggest that most of them came from marginalized community. They were then empowered by the Apostles to ensure that the practical needs were met and that systems to promote justice and mercy were implemented in the church. They were not merely administrative assistants, for some of them also carried out ministries of the Word. Stephen became the church’s first martyr.
By taking seriously the challenge of forming a culturally diverse community, the Apostles positioned the church to expand its ministry from Judea and Samaria to the ends of the earth. We should take note that the church’s struggles in this area did not end with the selection of the seven. It takes grace and intentionality to be all together and different.
Keeping the Donor Development staff in our prayers, please include Hadassah Carlson, Heidi Andrade, Joe Forrider, and Nathan Van Hoff in your prayer time today. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide them as they seek to serve Him better and grow as a team.