Summary: Exposition of Acts 6:1-7, first of two about how the Jerusalem church dealt with internal conflict.
Text: Acts 6:1-7, Title: Demonic Attacks 101—Church Conflict, Date/Place: NRBC, 9/23/07, AM
A. Opening illustration: see illustrations page, Acts 6 ill in ill file
B. Background to passage: We left Acts 5 with the church still moving on the mission at hand. Reminder: our mission is ever before us, and we can always ask if we are doing it. And even here in the beginning of Acts 6, growth is still taking place. Satan tried to attack with misunderstanding in 2, persecution in 3-4, sin within the body in 5 as well as persecution, and now he will try in 6 with internal conflict. And just like sin and unholiness was a major problem for the church, disunity and conflict within the church does great harm to the church and to its testimony. Come back tonight for the rest of this text that deals with what the pastor and what the deacons are supposed to be doing.
C. Main thought: In our text we will see the problem, the solution, and the results to internal church conflict.
A. The Problems (v. 1)
1. The problem faced by the church at this point was multi-faceted. And the facets were very similar to many that we see today in our churches. 1) The core problem was racism/elitism. Exp who the Hellenists and the Hebrew widows were, and why the conflict. 2) Failure to minister. Sooner or later in a growing church needs will get overlooked. Surely this was not intentional, but simply an oversight. But when the church fails to minister, it creates a foothold for demonic activity. 3) Complaining and grumbling was the third aspect of the problem. The Hellenists became disgruntled. They didn’t use the proper channels to deal with problems, they just gossiped. 4) Distraction for evangelism was another part of the problem. Church is growing before the conflict, then it grows after it is dealt with, but gets distracted in the middle. Inward focus destroys our outward mission.
2. Gal 3:28, James 2:1-7, Num 14:27, Philip 2:14, 1 Cor 10:7-10,
3. Illustration: As some of you know, we have about 200 people on a list from the church roll that we don’t even have addresses for them. Tell about the woman who enter the store and became the one-millionth customer, and when asked what she came to purchase, she announced to the crowd that gathered that she was going to the complain department. Finally, his very observant son said, “Dad, you’ve got to admit it wasn’t a bad show for just a dollar.”
4. 1) Here in the south we still deal with racism and elitism far more than we ought. It was a blight upon the early church, and it still is. Partiality based on a person’s ethnicity or financial prosperity or lack thereof is a sin. And I know that it is in part cultural, and that we are all prejudice to some extent, but it is something that we should be making war against. The church of Christ should be the one organization that flourishes with diversity in race and economic classes. It should set the example for the world. And the church that exhibits racist and elitist tendencies is an embarrassment to Jesus and His Kingdom. If you are a racist, you are in sin, and external shows, attitudes, and language will not be tolerated here. 2) How many ex-churchgoers do you know that feel forgotten or slighted by the church? We must do a better job at keeping up with people. All of us. We must meet the needs in our congregation before they become crises. How many of you get a call from your deacon, or from someone in your SS class once a month just to see how you are doing? How many of you make such a call? Do we leave the visitation of the shut-ins to that committee and the pastor? Thank God for some of you who do these things, many others of you should follow suit. 3) The real culprit in many of our conflicts is gossip. One person tells a story, and then the next person tells it with a little interpretation, then before you know it, it has turned into something that it never intended to be. And by the time the story gets back to me I have to go and correct the misconceptions in about 25 people. So verify the details of stories, go to the source, especially if you are offended in any way, and then keep them to yourself. Don’t be so concerned about personal preferences or agendas or comforts, etc. 4) Have you every noticed that when a church gets really hung upon internal issues, you don’t see much growth? How could you? All the effort is wasted in trying to figure out what side to be on in the conflict. The best thing that you can do during a conflict is to keep your focus where it needs to be.