“Serve” – if you have been a Christian or attended church for a while, you will find that church is synonymous to serving – whether it is in a ministry within the four walls of church, or outside of it. Why is serving such a huge, if not, core aspect of the Christian walk? Is it a prerequisite for being a part of a church? Is it similar to volunteering? Does everyone need to serve, or is it just for a select few?
In the 11th part of our Unstoppable series, we will learn about the heart of service and why all of the early church wanted to give themselves to serving.
WHAT WILL YOU DO
Being saved into the Kingdom gives us the privilege to be a royal priesthood and eternal companion unto Jesus, that we get to “proclaim the praises of Him” and partner Him in His Kingdom work. As such, serving God and man is not a mere religious obligation, but a call for every follower of Christ to join Him on a great adventure.
Wrap up this curriculum discussion with a prayer of recommitment to serving God, and ask Him how you can partner Him in His mission to bring heaven on earth.
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”” – Isaiah 6:8 NKJV
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light;” – 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV
What is meant by “Hellenistic”? Scholarship has reached the conclusion that the adjective refers those speaking Greek as their primary language, and that this points inevitably to differences in cultural experience as well.Since at this stage in the Church’s growth only Jews were members (the first Gentiles join in Acts 10:47 and 11:20-21), these were Jewish believers in Christ for whom Greek was their primary language. Martin Hengel’s proposal has been widely accepted, that there were in Jerusalem several thousand former Diaspora Jews, that is, Jews who had lived most of their lives in Greek-speaking cities and towns in other lands, and had returned for a variety of reasons to Jerusalem. Acts 6:9 supports the point with its reference to a synagogue of former slaves from Diaspora cities that have gathered together in Jerusalem for worship and community. He suggests that the most characteristic reason for a move to Jerusalem would have been retirement; if so, then it is likely that widowed women would have represented a disproportionately high percentage of that demographic. A significant number of these Hellenists, then, had responded to the gospel and had joined the Church.
What was the problem reported in Acts 6? It was actually two-fold. Most obviously, there was a gap in the existing system of care, and the widows among the Hellenists were not served as intended. But Luke’s mention of the “murmuring” of the Hellenists against the Hebrews indicates a second, related problem. Some versions translate this as a “complaint,” though the Greek term implies a misdirected rather than a straight-forward protest (compare John 6:41, 43). It recalls the “murmuring” of the Israelites in the desert (e.g., Exod. 15:24) and insinuates underlying tensions.
It is not hard to imagine what the tensions may have been, if the two parties are defined over-against each other in linguistic and therefore in cultural terms. A Jew from Alexandria, arriving in Jerusalem after a life of tensions in a sometimes hostile Graeco-Roman environment, might discover that life in the Holy Land was less than ideal, and that the locals seemed to lack sympathy, and the sophistication of their counterparts back home. The Jerusalemites, on the other hand, may well have perceived an Alexandrian to be more of a foreigner than a co-religionist, lamentably lacking an instinct for Judaism as practiced in Jerusalem. It has been further suggested that the Hellenists would probably have gravitated towards neighborhoods of their own, as is the case with so many groups of immigrants—and in this case, perhaps not the cheaper neighborhoods. This would have impeded understanding between the groups, and it may have been a factor in the actual neglect of the widows if they lived in an area less convenient for delivery of goods. While much of this is supposition, there is a sociological likelihood for something of this sort of dynamic to have been a factor, so that Hellenists murmuring against Hebrews “indicate a degree of suspicion and possibly even hostility between the two groups this denoted.” In short, Acts 6 depicts already the first of many cultural clashes that would challenge the life of the Church.