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Who’s On First?

Acts 6:1-6 details the account of some business that needed to be taken care of in the early church.  They made a choice to set aside seven men who could be trusted to do the ministry of waiting on tables so the apostles could manage preaching the Word of God.  The men who were chosen had to be pure of heart to keep from coveting the position of those who were preaching and keep the mind of a servant assisting those who were sharing the Word of God by making it so they wouldn’t have to wait on the tables.  This may not seem like a big thing, but in reality it is huge.  They could not let pride of position come into play at all.  AT ALL.  Why?  Because if they coveted the position of preacher they would be an obstacle, not a compliment to those men.  Their hearts had to be pure and the choosing of them was something taken very seriously.  It is no surprise they chose Stephen and Phillip since we know of their ministry later in the book of Acts shows their hearts were definitely committed and pure.  The others they chose were not mentioned in scripture beyond their initial ministry of the position of deacon.  The Webster’s definition of the word deacon is very telling where it says deacon – an official in some Christian churches whose rank is just below a priest or a member of some Christian churches who has special duties.  The distinction of being a deacon is a very important need in churches today.  It has morphed into something way beyond what was initially needed in the early church.  In many churches today deacons have become a decision making group that don’t serve, but make major decisions on the level of pastors.  The reason they were entrusted with being a deacon in the early church was so they didn’t aspire to be any more than what was needed.  The realization that these men being set aside for this purpose could cause them to elevate themselves beyond that purpose and would hinder the ministry instead of compliment it.  The importance of them being men of pure hearts was foundational to keep them solely set aside for what they were doing to assist the preachers of the gospel.  They waited on tables as servants.  When you wait on those needing help they many times want to elevate you because they appreciate your service so much.  Those men had a special humility that drove them to reject the gathering of support for their own agenda and the desire to grab power that wasn’t their’s to grab.  Wow. What a heart they must have had.  That is why in verse 5 it describes one of those deacons, Stephen, as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit.  So they needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit to keep the worldly attitude of grabbing power and recognition from becoming a part of their life.  As more and more were led to the Lord and started serving these men set the tone for true, unassuming service that was an example to all others who followed them in service.  To be anything more was a mark against the true purity of service in the church then and now.  If abused the position would take the scripture that speaks to the different parts of service in the church, as illustrated by the human body, and make all want to be the head, so none would be the hands and feet, or anything else.  The church would become one dimensional, instead of multi dimensional.  Instead of the gospel spreading, it would begin to cause us to look inward and not outward.  In my estimation, that is the problem with the modern day church.  We have too many who want to lead from the position of the top looking down and very few wanting to lead from the bottom looking up.  Due to a lack of pure hearts or being people filled with the Holy Spirit, we look at church leadership from a total worldly perspective and we try to qualify certain positions more than others.  The purity of the church is dependent on each believer realizing their place in the ministry of the church and being “satisfied” in the role they have been called to.  In Romans 12:3 Paul spoke to the strength of the church fellowship and service being pure when he wrote “I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather with sober judgment , in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Becoming a deacon who served and only served wasn’t a “put down” for Stephen and later in the book of Acts we see him being stoned for his stand for Christ.  Today that stoning would sadly come from church members, instead of lost hooligans.  Men and women of God who “get it” many times get “beat up” by those who don’t “get it” and have aspirations of power that God has not given them.  May we get back to being the church and realize that all parts of the body are important, and that feet are just as important as hands and heart.  If we will look at the big picture that God paints in His Word for us to see we will understand just how powerful the church can be if we all do what God has called us to do with purity and grace.   Laurel and Hardy had a funny


skit they performed called Who’s on first.   In that skit they showed that the names of the positions of a baseball team can be confusing when trying to keep up with the game.  But, if you know the overall intent of the game, it all makes sense.  When the Holy Spirit enters our heart we inherit a deep understanding of how this whole Christian thing works, but the part that generates power to the message is when we study God’s Word, our users manual, and put the pieces in the right places.  When that happens, you have a church.  When you have a church, all the world is impacted for Christ.  Who’s on first?  Look at the rules, and study the game, and you will then be able to keep up.  All of this is foundational and Ephesians 2:20 helps us see that where it says, “having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”

The Pilgrimage Continues…..

David Warren

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