Loving as Listening

I want to hold myself and my church accountable regarding my/our love of people. Lent Week 4, Day 21

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Things were going well, and the number of disciples was growing. But a problem arose. The Greek-speaking believers became frustrated with the Hebrew-speaking believers. The Greeks complained that the Greek-speaking widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. The twelve convened the entire community of disciples.

Twelve: We could solve this problem ourselves, but that wouldn’t be right. We need to focus on proclaiming God’s message, not on distributing food. So, friends, find seven respected men from the community of faith. These men should be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Whomever you select we will commission to resolve this matter so we can maintain our focus on praying and serving—not meals—but the message. (Acts 6:1-4, The Voice)

In the early life of the Christian church, most things went smoothly. However, challenges were bound to exist, because…humans.

There are a couple of interesting things taking place here, though. First, no one doubts the Greek-speaking believers. There are two groups of people described: Greeks and Hebrews. There is a perceived conflict. It seems as if the Greek widows are being discriminated against and the Hebrew widows are reaping the benefit.

And no one doubts this is the case. No one challenges. No one says, “You are only imagining it.” No one says, “It’s not really a problem.” No one says, “Well, at least it isn’t as bad as it used to be.” None of that.

A perceived problem was reported. And immediately solutions were sought.

Second, the proposed solution involved Greek speaking people. (It appears this way based on the names of the individuals.) So many Greek believers say that Greek widows are being mistreated and Hebrew widows are getting too much. And the leadership at the time (pretty much all Hebrews) name a group of both Greeks and Hebrews to identify solutions. The predominant culture did not try to fix problems they did not fully understand. They commissioned a diverse group of people to create a viable solution.

How much could we learn from these two lessons? How much would our society change if we stopped questioning people who told us about problems in their lives? How much would relationships improve if our first impulse was to empathize and think about solutions? How far could things go if we did not think that people just “need to get over it?

And this is not specific to any particular issue. If someone is talking about race relations or gender relations or street conditions or school safety or equitable treatment or health care or career opportunities, what if we decided to listen and mutually seek solutions?

Further, what would change if those of the predominant culture did not choose only people from the predominant culture to solve problems that involve people from other cultures? How great would it be if we selected people who understood the problem (because they are living it) to work with others to create better solutions?

Think about groups of ethnic, gender, economic, educational, and age diversity. Think of how much more could be offered if we created groups of people who looked, acted, and thought differently?

The early church got this. They also struggled with it. But at least they tried.

Will we?

 

 

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