God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw an amazing example of how Jesus followers suffered well. If you’re interested you can read that post here: “The Way” the Disciples of Jesus Responded to Suffering: Acts 5:33-42. In today’s post we’ll look at how Jesus’ followers solved the problem of discrimination.
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.Acts 6:1-6
Selecting the Solution
We see in the first verse of our text that “Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.”
So the church is growing rapidly and the challenges of leading a larger group are beginning to emerge. One of those challenges was discrimination, specifically against the Hellenist widows, which is to say, those who spoke Greek and/or whose lifestyles were more influenced by the Greek culture (and the Greek culture was ubiquitous). During this time in history many Diaspora Jews settled in Jerusalem from foreign countries. In that culture at that time, it was considered by Jews to be virtuous to be buried in the land of Israel. So people would move there toward the end of their lives so they could die there. As a result, because women live longer than men, there were a disproportionate number of foreign Jewish widows living in Jerusalem. Caring for widows was taken very seriously in Jewish culture. And this group was being neglected. Materially speaking, their needs weren’t being met. And they complained.
And I love the way the church leaders responded to their complaint.
You might notice that every one of the men named to address this problem has a Greek name. Not a Hebrew name among them. The men assigned to lead this group of Jesus’ followers to a solution were from the same people group who pointed out the problem in the first place.
Similar to many cultures down through history, in that day those with political power generally repressed complaining minorities. But the apostles respond by — prayerfully — handing over the issue to the offended minority. (Keener)
I thought that was a brilliant and elegant solution.
In our next post from the book of Acts we’ll talk about busy-ness, and laziness, and time management, and God’s sweet spot.
This article relies heavily on Craig Keener’s commentary: The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament,
InterVarsity Press, 1993, p. 338
Love Like Jesus on YouTube
In addition to our normal Bible study discussion, I’d also like to take this opportunity to let you know we’re in the process of putting the content from the Love Like Jesus book up on YouTube! The first video is with the editor now and the channel will be starting soon. I wanted you to know about it and I hope you’ll join me on YouTube as I try to love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
More information will be coming soon!
Kurt Bennett’s book is now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.