2012-02-22 / Religion

Church: the perfect place for imperfect people

The Gospel Truth
Jared Buchanan

Acts 6:1-7

Too often people put the church up high on a pedestal and expect perfection. Church members are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination! God accepts us warts and all, but thankfully he does not leave us that way.

It wasn’t six months since the Jerusalem church began that they were already on the verge of a church split. A complaint arose in the church that divided the church right down the middle.

The church had two major groups of people: the Hellenist Jews (who spoke Greek) and the Native Jews (who spoke Hebrew). The differences between the two were large. The Hellenists thought that they were being discriminated against and overlooked at the daily food distribution.

This is an important lesson for us to learn because a church that cares for its own members is the only kind of church that is capable of caring for new members. The Apostles laid out a solution to the problem in verse 2-6. They acknowledged three things they needed to solve their problem and grow and these are three things we need in order to solve our own growth pains and attract new people.

We need spiritual nourishment

The Apostles acted as the pastors of the Jerusalem church. Today, the office of pastor has been expanded to mean a lot of things in our modern churches. Even though the Bible only gives one mandate to pastor; that is to teach and preach the word. Many churches have saddled the pastor with all kinds of responsibilities. God’s word faithfully preached from a pastor whose character is in-line with scripture will do more benefit to the church than anything else the he does.

I recently bought a fish tank for my office. I had wanted one for a long time. So, finally I bought one. I bought the tank, the rocks, artificial plant. I set it up. It looked great. Then it was time for the fish. I went to Petsmart and bought seven fish. One sucker fish, two guppies, two x-ray fish and two coral fish. When I got to the office I wasted no time easing the fish into their new home. They looked great. My tank was complete. For about a week I enjoyed my fish. Until one died, then another, then another, by the third week all of my fish were floating at the top! Come to find out you have to treat the water with tablets before you put the fish in. Well I didn’t know that; I do now!

In the same way, many churches focus their attention on their beautiful fish bowls. They place all the emphasis on decorations and packing pews with people, forgetting the most essential part of the service; the proclamation and application of the word of God. The most vital source of nutrients cannot be overlooked here or in your home next to your bed before you go to sleep.

People desperately need the nourishment that only comes from the word of the Lord. No self-help book, no inspirational novel can compete with the Bible; all of life’s questions are answered here, every problem we face is solved here.

I think we are afraid to open our Bibles sometimes because we know it will probably tell us something we don’t want to hear about ourselves. As children we hated eating our vegetables. However, the vegetables were exactly the nutrients we needed. It’s time we eat our peas and carrots. It’s time for God’s people to feast on the bread of life; the word of God. We need to rightfully be labeled, “The people of the book.”

We need physical nourishment

The Apostles realized the physical needs of the people. The church leadership came up with a solution to the problem. They recommended that they choose seven Hellenistic men to oversee the food distribution and tend to the needs of the people. This would free-up the apostles to focus on the spiritual needs of the flock. These seven men would become known as deacons. The word deacon literally means servant.

I once heard an American missionary to Brazil tell a story about how he was explaining to a Brazilian how his home church back in the states were going through a struggle. The deacons there were divided on an issue and were causing strife. The Brazilian looked confused at the missionary and said, “The deacons were causing strife? You mean the guys who cut my grass when I’m sick?”

Deacons are servants. But service is not only for deacons. Every church member has a responsibility to meet the needs of one another.

John Smith comes to church with a lot of baggage. During the week he is swamped with pressure from work. He is overloaded with bills to pay. He is stressed with raising children. Then he comes to church and sits in the pew and listens to the preacher. He’s thinking to himself, “This sure is interesting, but what’s it got to do with my life and my needs.” He wants to listen and learn, but he can’t take his minds off his physical needs.

Caring members who see John Smith struggling should step in and see if they can take the kids for an afternoon, bring him and his wife a covered dish and say, “I know life can be overwhelming, hang in there, I brought you some chicken pot pie.”

We must keep our eyes open for John Smiths in our church. The more needs are met, the more attention can be given to the word of God.

We need agreeable attitudes

The church accepted the advice of the Apostles. Some may have been still upset. More than likely, not everyone had their way. But the Jerusalem church decided to put this issue away. This problem could have easily led to a church split. However, enough godly people came together and solved the problem.

The Christians in Acts 6 had an agreeable attitude about them. We need agreeable attitudes. That does not mean we will always agree on everything, but only that we won’t mountains out of mole hills; that we won’t allow petty differences to come in the way of the church’s main objective. One thing is certain: A disagreeable church stifles growth; it takes attention away from the word, and detracts the objective of the church.

The Jerusalem church had a problem on their hands, but they formulated a solution and saw it through. It reminds of a story I once heard of a three year old girl who went down to the front of her church and listened to the children’s sermon given by their pastor. The three year old sat attentively with her blue dress on and bow in hair. The pastor said, “God wants us all to get along and love each other. God wants us all to be one. The little girl visibly upset cried out, “But I don’t want to be one, I want to be four!”

The point is God wants us to get along, to love each other despite our differences and yes to be one!

In conclusion, when physical and spiritual needs are met, and there is an agreeable attitude in the church, problems are solved and there is no limit to growth. The Jerusalem church knew that the most important thing for them to do was introduce Jesus to others. They didn’t allow a small problem to take away from their mission.

The end result was salvation of the priests, found in verse seven. The Jerusalem church overcame internal strife and grew from the experience. Yes, church is the perfect place for imperfect people!

Return to top