Week 8 of The Way: a new series on the Book of Acts
Acts 6:1-7 (Hear Tyler's sunday sermon here)
In Acts 6, a group of early church leaders are commissioned to “wait tables” (Diakonein) for widows who had been neglected in the disbursement of the community's food. This delegation from the apostles turned out to be one of the most significant ministry decisions the early church made! It empowered an incredible group of 7 leaders with the opportunity to take up the mantle of the churches “works of service” (Eph 4:13). This enabled the apostles to continue to spread the word of God rapidly as Jesus had commissioned them to do (Acts 1:8). Without making this choice, Acts 6 tells us that many disciples would not have been made through the church’s preaching in both word and deed (1 John 3:18). By empowering servant leaders, many more disciples were added to their community.
This new role reflected Christ’s ministry. He came not to be served but to be a servant (a Diakonein). In Luke 23, Jesus says that His greatest leaders are to be counter-cultural and not like the rulers of our world who lord over others. Instead they will serve their guests and get up from the table to get down and wash the feet of their guests just like He did. The highest seat at the table in God’s kingdom goes to the servants who like Jesus are “among you as one who serves”.
Jesus made it beautifully and abundantly clear that the food still needs to be served to those in need. It wouldn't have been enough to tell the Hellenistic (Greek-speaking) widows that "God provides". Instead these 7 appointed Greek leaders led their fellow Hebraic (born in Israel) Christians to not neglect those on the margins of their community. Jesus himself fed 5000 and then another 4000 and didn't send the people away hungry as his disciples wanted to (Matthew 15:32).
The apostle Paul calls us to never come to the communion table in a way that is desecrated because others aren't receiving they food they need (1 Cor. 11:27). To instead “give to anyone as they have need.” (Luke 6:30). By practical care for our neighbors like the 7 servant leaders in Acts, those we serve will be freed to receive “food that will never perish”. To hear good news and become “people not living by bread alone, but by every word from God”.
Could you imagine if we were a community known for our care for each other and the least of these?
how has god served you in your time of need? how have others helped you experience god's love through meeting your practical needs?
How are you tempted to get yours at the expense of others in need? does a fear of "not enough to go around" keep you from serving others?
Where is god calling you to "wait tables" like Jesus and "the seven" in acts 6?