April 10, 2017
Select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility (v.3).
READ: Acts 6:1-6
Watch a video of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, and you’ll be struck by the charm and grace with which they performed. It’s easy to assume that the four musicians were simply born with the skills they displayed. But in his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that what made The Beatles a hit with fans was lots of hard work. Before that celebrated performance, the band had done nearly 1,200 shows—practice that prepared them for greatness.
The early church worked hard to protect and encourage diversity, leading to some great results. Already on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:7-12), the believers in Jesus enjoyed differences in language, geography, socio-economic class and race. The diversity—a work of the Holy Spirit—can be clearly seen throughout the book of Acts.
But unity amid diversity doesn’t come easily. In Acts 6, when a conflict arose about how the widows of different cultural backgrounds were being treated, the apostles didn’t sit on their hands and wait to see if things would work themselves out. No, they did nothing less than create a completely new level of leadership for the church, filling it with seven respected men “full of the Spirit and wisdom” (vv.2-4). In Acts 15, “the apostles and elders met together”—the Council of Jerusalem—to make sure that Gentile Christians were not discouraged in their faith (v.6). Diversity might have been a gift of the Spirit, but they worked hard to cultivate that gift.
We all want diversity in our churches and in our relationships, for it reflects how God loves all people and calls us to form a new family—the body of Christ. But I have to remind myself regularly that even though diversity is a gift of God to be celebrated, it’s also one to be cultivated. May the Holy Spirit help us do that well.
365-day plan: 2 Samuel 18:1-18
Read Acts 8:26-40 to see another example of how the Holy Spirit worked through a leader to grow diversity in the early church.
Do your relationships reflect the beautiful diversity of the early church? What can you do to promote and protect diversity among believers in Jesus today?