Scripture Focus: Acts 6.1-7
1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

Reflection: Behind the Gospel
By John Tillman

New bands, businesses, church plants, countries, and other organizations start with idealism, purpose, and inspiration. But eventually, the world’s ugly realities set in.

Some friends and I used to joke about the storytelling formula of the documentary series, VH1: Behind the Music. Bands always started with hard work and a dream followed by their discovery and big break. Then somewhere around the third or fourth commercial break, conflict started. Jealousy, drugs, power struggles, or relationship problems threatened the band’s unity, quality, and career. Not every band had a happy ending. 

Sometimes Acts seems like a Behind the Gospel documentary of controversies and crises. The unfair food distribution is only the first big one. There are clashes of race, politics, theology, methodology, education, and ecclesiology.

Those who idealize the early church may think this is scandalous. “I thought the early church was supposed to be perfect?”

Leaders embroiled in church conflict might be tempted to despair. “If they struggled, what hope do we have?”

Those disillusioned by arguments and battles within the modern church may want to give up. “If it’s always been this way, what’s the point?”

“Does this mean conflict is just…normal? Is the church just another human institution? Are we a popular “supergroup,” that burst on the scene, had a few big hits and albums, went through bad seasons, and inevitably split up? Do we just move on and focus on our solo careers?”

Certainly not. We have what we need to overcome the world’s ugly realities.

I’ve always found it encouraging, rather than discouraging that the early church had conflicts. If they had no troubles, but we do, we have lost something. It would mean they had access to some supernatural unity that has waned, leaving us with dregs and drips. But that is not the case.

We still have access to the supernatural unity for which Jesus prayed. Through the Holy Spirit, the early church addressed conflict, creating systems and decisions that were both faithful to scripture and fair to all. Are we accessing what Jesus prayed for? Are we listening to the Holy Spirit or human voices of jealousy, power, and strife?

God’s perfect word shows us an imperfect New Testament church, and I’m thankful. We don’t have to live up to perfection or expect it from ourselves or our churches. But we should lean on grace, bear with one another, and bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6.1-5; Ephesians 4.2-3; Colossians 3.12-14)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
No good things will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity. — Psalm 84.11

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Isaiah 17-18 (Listen 3:44)
Acts 6 (Listen 2:35)

Read more about Supporting Our Work
We need support to continue providing ad-free content that brings biblical devotionals to inboxes across the world. Consider donating today.

Read The Bible With Us
It’s never too late to join our Bible reading plan. What will you hear, reading the Bible at a sustainable, two-year pac?