Scripture Reading — Acts 6:1-7
Do everything without complaining or arguing. Philippians 2:14 —
Brimming with nostalgic thoughts, we might imagine the early church to be different from any church we might visit today. Imagine Peter as your preacher or John in charge of pastoral care. Imagine Thaddaeus in charge of the bulletin and Bartholomew coordinating church facilities. Imagine listening to the stories of Jesus from witnesses who walked with him!
The first church in Jerusalem seemed to have everything going for it. Ministry reached far and wide. People were being converted. The church was growing. And, as in every church, growth brought problems. Greek widows weren't being served as well as Hebrew widows.
When a church has problems, what matters is how people respond to the problems. Some respond by leaving. Other folks stay and murmur. They gongysmos. This Greek word describes the same kind of murmuring the Israelites did against Moses (see Exodus 16:2).
Have you gongysmosed lately? Maybe it was something big: "Lately, the preaching seems a bit weak." Maybe it was something small: "I hate the juice we serve at coffeetime." But you may think, "I'm not murmuring, I'm being helpful. I'm highlighting the church problems so everyone can see them."
But the Holy Spirit never nudges us to murmur. He nudges us to grace and truth. And problem solving.
Father, please forgive our grumbling. Turn it into service that helps your church flourish. Help us to solve problems creatively and with a spirit of love, for Jesus' sake. Amen.