More on How to Overcome Prejudice and Discrimination According to the Early Church

In yesterday's post I mentioned that you could argue that racial and ethnic divisions were the Number One problem facing the early church.

Seems like some things never change.

Consider, as another example, the very first dispute among the early followers of Jesus:
Acts 6.1
Now in those days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 
There it is, the very first dispute within the early church was ethnic in origin.

The native Hebraic Jews had lived their whole lives in Palestine and still spoke Hebrew. These were the ethnically "pure" and "true" Jews. The Greek-speaking Jews had lived abroad and spoke Greek rather than Hebrew. These Jews had been ethnically "assimilated."

And across that social line, a dispute arose over ethic discrimination: The widows among the Greek-speaking Jews were being ignored.

There it is, right at the start of the story, prejudice and discrimination dividing the church.

And so the Greek-speaking brothers and sisters do what Paul did with Peter in Galatians 2, they confronted the prejudice and discrimination in their midst so that the kingdom could come on earth as it is in heaven. And the church responded to eliminate the discrimination taking place in their midst.

Two observations.

First, racial and ethnic divisions plagued the early church. The story unfolding in Acts and in Paul's Epistles is the story of how the church confronted and dealt with those divisions. So in the wake of this election season let's pay attention to what they were doing and how they did it.

Second, going back to my recent post on this subject, the sphere of action in these stories is the local church. These racial and ethnic divisions were being dealt with within the church, within the intimate sphere of face to face relationships among people committed to confessing Jesus as Lord of all.

The actions to "make the kingdom come on earth" in the Jesus' ministry and in the early church were not electoral and political but relational and intimate. And yet these were the actions that turned the world upside down.

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