Read Acts 6:1-7
In today’s terms, the Jerusalem church was a “mega-church” from the day of its birth (Acts 2:41). But growth continued as more and more people came to faith in Jesus (Acts 2:47; 6:1). In fact, the most recent estimate of the size of the church had the number of men alone at about 5,000 (Acts 4:4). With growth came challenges to their unity. Having begun as a diverse group from many different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds (Acts 2:5-11), those differences had caused division.
Early on, the church had given attention to serving the marginalized in their midst. Widows were among them. These women without husbands had real needs. The church had assumed the responsibility of providing food for them every day. God was using His people to give to these widows their “daily bread” (Matt. 6:11).
Unfortunately, some of the widows were being overlooked. It didn’t seem to be the result of random oversight. Instead, it was specifically the Jews with a Greek background. They were not receiving food.
Thankfully, the apostles wisely chose not to set aside their own calling. They did, however, develop a plan for addressing the problem…a plan that incorporated other people. The plan did not erase the differences, but it did address the disunity. In just a short time, unity was restored and the Jerusalem church became a multiplying movement once again (Acts 6:7).
Did you know that God seems to glory in the dimensions of diversity of His church? Whether male or female, regardless of income, independent of employment status, irrespective of ethnic background, and unrelated to mother tongue (Gal. 3:28; Rev. 5:9), we are all one in Jesus. But with differences comes the potential for disunity. We must guard against that, lest our Christian witness be diminished!
Perhaps one of the greatest differences represented in the 21st century church is age related. Those differences have become so defined that sociologists have even developed names and stereotypes for different generations (builders, boomers, generation X, millennials, and generation Z). Which generation are you? How do you relate to the others?
But the unity of the church is preserved when we intentionally seek to cross the invisible lines of demarcation. Unity is preserved when we intentionally engage with, love, and serve those different from us. Unity is preserved when we intentionally take the first step in the direction of others different from us. By keeping disunity at bay, the gospel can move forward without hindrance.