From Pastor Johnny

The Beauty in Different Pieces: Part 3

          The church progressed and an increasing number of widows were being fed, as they turned to Christ and had little other option for being supported but the church. The Gentile widows were the minority group and were not being taken care of as well as the Jewish widows. The Gentile widows experienced being marginalized in receiving food and care, as they were the minority group. 

          The Apostles devised a plan to add a group of seven men who would help provide ministry to these ladies who were vulnerable in the local church. In Acts 6:5-6, this event took place, “And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.”

          In this case, the Gentiles were the minority group in the church. The qualifications of these men had to be full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom. So, out of all the men full of the Holy Spirit & wisdom, the leadership & church chose seven. But it is no accident that all seven of these men chosen were Gentiles. That is right, the Apostles directed the leaders to be spiritually qualified, but appointed those in the minority group to serve all the positions. The growing trend in that early church was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

          After Stephen’s execution at the hands of some of the religious leaders, a persecution arose led by Saul. Many Christians left Jerusalem because of it. One of those was Phillip. He was taken to a road that ran from Jerusalem to North Africa. On that road happened to be a powerful leader from the royal court of the Candace (female emperor) of Ethiopia. Phillip led the man to the Lord, and then in Acts 8:38-39, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.”

          The Eunuch returned to Ethiopia, in Northern Africa, and carried the Gospel with him. Many believe this was one of the first churches in history outside Jerusalem and the Judea region. Phillip was from the Middle East and the Ethiopian was from northeast Africa, but they both carried the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

In Acts 10 the Apostle Peter was commanded to eat Gentile food, so he could sit down at a table with a group of people he had grown up despising. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

          In Acts 13:1 the leadership is listed in the church in Antioch.  There were five leaders, and they were: Barnabas (a brown skinned, Jewish, Caribbean), Simeon “called Niger (as in Nigeria, i.e. black), Lucius of Cyrene (North Africa in modern day Libya), Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch (a light skinned European), and Saul (a Jewish Israeli). Out of this group would come the greatest missions effort in history. This was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

The Beauty in Different Pieces: Part 2

From the beginning, Jesus’ plan was for the church to reach every people, ethnicity, culture, and geographical area. He explained the plan in Acts 1:8 as He states,

                     “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The plan of Jesus Christ from the beginning was UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

            Then, as the church began with its launch in Jerusalem where this happened, the Holy Spirit came down. People from the upper room began declaring the Gospel, and citizens from all over the world heard. As Luke writes in Acts 2:5-6, “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.”

            God allowed everyone to hear the same Gospel, no matter who they were, what color their skin, or what ethnicity they represented. The Gospel of Christ, and salvation through Him, was the uniting factor. From the beginning, the Gospel involved many ethnicities, cultures, & skin tones. The evidence showed UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

As the church continued to grow, so did the scope of ministry and the need of resources to fund those ministries. In the course of the growth of the Church, this happened in Acts 4:36-37, And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

This means that a Mediterranean Jewish brother sold property & brought the money to the apostles, who were primarily middle eastern Jewish leaders. The unique unity and diversity were already beginning to be displayed. There was an example growing of UNITY amidst DIVERSITY.

The Beauty in Different Pieces: Part 1

                   When I was a little boy, I had a toy that was a cardboard cylinder approximately 10-12 inches long and 3-4 inches in diameter.  On one end cap was a small hole about a half of an inch in diameter through which one could look.  On the other end of the tube was a small sleeve on the outside of the cylinder that could be twisted.  The point was to look through the hole on one end and turn the sleeve on the other.  As the sleeve turned, inside the tube was a fantastic combination of crystals of many shapes, sizes, and colors.  These multi-colored and varied shaped crystals would tumble together in such a way that it seemed that it would make a mess, and yet the mess would turn in to beautiful designs.  This toy was called a kaleidoscope.

                        The most amazing part of the kaleidoscope is that seemingly random parts, colors, and shapes would congregate to make something beautiful.  As is the kaleidoscope, so is the church of Jesus Christ. 

                        God brings together some of the most unique and varied people and individuals to create something beautiful. And, not just beautiful, but eternally impactful.  When a great diversity of God’s people come together by the Holy Spirit, it can touch eternity for many people.

                        Part of the beauty of God’s church is that He takes the many and varied pieces to make the beautiful picture that is the church. In fact, some may say that God creates beautiful unity in His church despite diversity. However, the reality is that God creates beautiful unity in His church because of the diversity. Rather than God working around the diverse pieces to create His beautiful, unified, and diverse Bride, He works through the diverse pieces.

            Are you allowing God to use you to be a part of this work?

            Check back tomorrow for more…

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