Summary: What does a church in action do with problems? How do we handle controversy? By following the example of the early church.

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The First Controversy in the Church

A church in action will still have some problems.

ILL>>>Perhaps the only way to avoid quarreling with your wife is to let her go her way and you go hers.

ILL>>> Sue Martinuk,

War had broken out between my roommate and me. We dealt with our anger by not communicating with each other.

I came in one night and found a note from my roommate: "I wish you Jesus." I cried. Then I wrote a note asking her for forgiveness. I placed it on her pillow and went to sleep.

Later, my roommate came home and shouted from the hallway that she had left a note on my desk--my sister had called and asked me to send her the music for "I Wish You Jesus"!

We both had a good laugh--and were reconciled.

What does a church in action do with problems? How do we handle controversy?

By following the example of the early church.

Acts 6:1-7

I. The Church must really listen to Complaints! V1

A. Expect Complaints when the church is multiplying // faster then adding! 5:14 added to …

ILL>> Augustus Toplady, who wrote the famous hymn "Rock of Ages," called John Wesley a "tadpole in divinity." Wesley in turn called Toplady "the most rancorous hater of the gospel system." Nevertheless, in Toplady’s 1776 hymnal, "Rock of Ages" stood next to Charles Wesley’s "Jesu, Lover of My Soul."

-- "The Golden Age of Hymns," Christian History, no. 31.

B. Expect Complaints of a personal, racial nature – Hellenistic (Greek converts)

ILL>>> Ninety percent of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.

C. Expect Complaints because there is usually a real problem

ILL>>> It is too bad that anything so obvious should need to be said at this late date, but from all appearances, we Christians have about forgotten the lesson so carefully taught by Paul: God’s servants are not to be competitors, but co-workers.

-- A.W. Tozer in The Next Chapter After the Last. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 13.

1. The problem may be exactly as stated – widows are our loving responsibility!

2. The problem may be subtle & additional correction may be needed.

ILL>>> -- Vance Havner

A church had a sign in front: JESUS ONLY. One night a storm blew out the first three letters and left US ONLY. Too many churches have come to that.

I. The Church must really listen to Complaints! V1

II. The Church must respond to Crisis v2

A. Excuses are not appropriate – an answer is what is needed –

ILL>>> -- Bill Hybels, Leadership

Conflict that goes underground poisons the soil and hurts everyone eventually.

B. Elect men for the job --“We cannot take care of this ourselves”…

ILL>>> Forgiveness isn’t pretending nothing has happened, or pretending that what happened didn’t hurt. It isn’t even forgetting it completely, and it isn’t going back and starting over as though it hadn’t ever happened. Instead, forgiveness is refusing to let anything permanently destroy the relationship. There’s a place for saying, "I’m sorry." There’s a place for assuring the other person that "all is forgiven." But the goal of both is to rebuild the relationship. One of the amazing things about a healthy beginning again is that the relationship is often stronger than it was before.

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