This week we’ve been studying a story in the Bible where the early Christian leaders, the apostles, couldn’t keep balancing the work of feeding the poor and of preaching the gospel, and were dropping the ball on the food distribution. After admitting they were the problem, here’s what they did:
These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them. And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith. (Acts 6:6-7 ESV)
I find it interesting that such incredible results were reported immediately after. Luke the author clearly wants us to connect them – focused ministry led to good ministry.
Even priests, who were a high profile part of the sacrificial system, were becoming Christians. They hade a lot to lose by admitting Jesus is the one true sacrtifice for sin, and their sacrificial services would no longer be required as a result. But, a great many of them did become followers of Jesus.
People love to quote St. Francis as saying: “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” It’s quite likely he wasn’t the one who said it, but people still love the idea because it lets them off the hook if they’re scared of talking about religion, and makes it seem like we can just quietly serve tables.
Unfortunately, we see Jesus doing both serving and speaking, and we see the apostles doing both, even though they had to prioritize the preaching.
We even see the duality here – the servers just appointed here have helped the word of God continue to increase. That can’t have happened simply by osmosis – they gave people food and it just happened. They had to communicate in some way why they did this, perhaps as people asked about their motivations. They might not have had all the giftings of a great communicator, but they at least had the ability to name Jesus as the reason for their charity. In the next few stories, we’ll see some of these newly appointed servants boldly speaking about Jesus – they didn’t just wait tables.
This is about doing both and having to set priorities, not doing one or the other exclusively.
There is power in feeding someone that can make them extremely receptive to a message.
A few weeks ago, I went to the Tim Hortons drive through, placed an order for bagel and coffee. I was told the person in front had already paid, I think it was a bit more than $3. I immediately smiled, it was such a joy to know there were kind people in the line ahead of me, maybe even all morning. They didn’t do much, but those few dollars meant something. I paid for the person behind, and imagine it carried on until the line ended. My smile lasted just as long, and I certainly ended up curious about the motivation of that first person in line who kicked it all off. Feeding people is a powerful, attitude adjusting event.
Challenge: Alone, or preferably in a group, consider your giftings. Are you more suited to telling others about the good news of Jesus, or showing them with generous actions? Either way, try to do both today. Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you someone to feed. Someone behind you in line, someone camped out on the street, someone who works for or with you, etc. Try to eat with someone every week. When they ask why, just say that as a Christian, you believe in valuing and caring for other people, and that you love eating, so it’s a natural pairing to eat together. See where it goes from there.
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]