November 11, 2014
READ: Acts 6:1-7
The Twelve . . . said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food programme. . . . Select seven men who are well respected. . . . We will give them this responsibility” (vv.2-3).
Reconciliation. It’s God’s heart for people to be restored in relationship with one another across differences in culture, race and class. This is vital, but sometimes it feels so big that we don’t know where to start.
The answer is to start small.
In Acts 6 we find an issue that was about more than food distribution. It involved a bitter cultural and ideological conflict between Hebraic and Grecian Jews—people who not only spoke different languages but shared other differences too (v.1) The conflict between groups was a recurring problem in the early church, and other accounts can be found in Acts 9, 11 and 22. In light of this the apostles’ decision to place some men in charge of the food distribution seemed woefully inadequate.
But these were Spirit-led followers of Jesus, including Stephen, the first martyr of the church (Acts 7), and Philip, one of the early church’s most powerful evangelists (Acts 8). What’s more their simple efforts to make sure food was equitably distributed minimised the potential for conflict. This paved the way for healing to take place between the two groups.
No reconciliation would have been possible without the practical first step of appointing seven men for the food distribution. In fact, after their installation, the renown of the church spread even further (6:7).
We can take great encouragement from this example. Yes, reconciliation is a difficult pursuit. But it’s also one that can begin with simple acts of generosity, fairness and hospitality. These actions might seem small, but they create an environment where relationships can begin to heal, discussions can take place and—with God’s leading—true reconciliation can occur. —Peter Chin
365-day plan› Acts 21:37-22:29
Read Luke 19:1-10 to see how Jesus’ seemingly small act of reaching out to Zacchaeus led to the tax collector becoming a force for reconciliation and justice.
In what small ways can you begin to lay the foundation for reconciliation in your personal life? How about in your church?