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Solving Conflicts – In Love

by | May 7, 2023 | Conflict, God's Love, Love

“Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.’ And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” (Acts 6:1-6 ESV)

It’s a comfort sometimes to remember that the early church had its conflicts, just as we do. In this case, there was a problem with the food bank, to put it in modern terms. The congregation was made up of two groups of people from different cultures and languages, and the Hellenists (Greek speakers) were getting the short end of the stick. Their poor widows were getting overlooked. So they complained. So far, so typical of church conflicts, right?

But then these first Christians did something remarkable. They didn’t sweep the problem under the rug, or appoint a committee, or make an off-the-cuff decision. Instead, the apostles called them all together and laid the problem before them. They asked for people who could take on this job—and they had to be wise and filled with the Spirit, even for such a humble job! So the congregation chose seven people. Now look at the names. They are all Greek names! The congregation cared so much about fixing this problem that they made sure the people in charge of solving it came from the group that had been suffering.

This is love. This is sensitivity—to be willing to share power, or even hand it over completely, to those who have suffered. In this time and place, the “Hebrews” were in a position of power in the larger culture, but not in the church. In the church, all were brothers and sisters—with one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And that day, they proved it through their actions. The church stayed united in love, and one of the new leaders—a man named Stephen—eventually had the honor of being the first to lay down his life for Jesus.

This kind of love is no surprise when we remember what Jesus has done for us. When He saw that we were in trouble, doomed by our sin and suffering under the power of evil, what did He do? Hand us over to a committee? No. He came Himself. He put Himself at our service, making Himself our caregiver—loving us as nobody ever did before, or ever could. He loved us to the point of death on a cross for us. And He rose from the dead triumphant, to gather us all together as one church across all time and space. In His kingdom, there are no permanent divisions. Jesus Himself is our unity, and He will be our peace (see Micah 5:5).

We Pray: Dearest Lord, thank You, and make Your love shine through us to those around us. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on May 2, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. What is a church conflict you recall?
2. Was it solved? If so, did the solution come from love or from simple use of power?
3. Why do you think the apostles made such a big deal of this particular issue?


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