Problems Are Growth Seeds
As a child, Wilma Rudolph had polio. She worked hard to overcome her disability. In 1960 she won gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 400-meter relay. Polio brought out the best in her.
The early church had problems. The Palestinian Jews carefully kept the laws and customs of Judaism. They looked down on Greek-speaking Jews and the Greek culture they’d brought to Jerusalem. The needs of their widows were often overlooked (Acts 6:1).
The apostles sought to solve the problem. They didn’t defend themselves. They didn’t resist change. They bent without getting bent out of shape. They created new leadership positions (Acts 6:3).
Notice the requirements for these leaders (Acts 6:3). Their intellect, emotions, and will must be under the control of the Holy Spirit. They must be able to apply God’s word to everyday issues. They must have good reputations in the community. An uneducated person with these qualities makes a better spiritual leader than a Ph.D. without them.
Solving the unfair distribution of resources problem flexibly, wisely, and nondefensively multiplied the church’s ministry and growth (Acts 6:7). Ignoring problems in the church stunts both.
Stephen was one of those chosen to serve tables. He was filled with faith and power. He performed great miracles. Even more than the apostles, he understood the changes Christianity would bring to Judaism. The Jews brought him before the Jewish council for perceived attacks on their beliefs. There, Stephen insisted that God’s working isn’t limited to a geographical area. God’s people willingly move forward with Him.
The Jews exalted Moses and the good old days spent wandering in the wilderness. Stephen reminded them that the children of Israel defied God and worshiped idols even though they had the law and the sacrificial system. Their land, law, and temple weren’t ends in themselves. God doesn’t live in man-made houses. The new temple is Christ and those who are part of His body.
The Jewish leaders totally rejected Stephen’s message. They stoned him. Stephen was full of Jesus and His sweet, forgiving savor even as the stones flew (Act 7:60).
Stephen’s execution began the Jerusalem church’s persecution. As Christians fled from Jerusalem, they planted gospel seeds wherever they went. These seeds produced new Christians and churches. Within every problem are the seeds of growth. Face your problems. God will use them to bring out the best in you.
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