During this time, as the disciples were increasing in numbers by leaps and bounds, hard feelings developed among the Greek-speaking believers—"Hellenists"—toward the Hebrew-speaking believers because their widows were being discriminated against in the daily food lines. Acts 6:1 (TM)
Years ago, I was pastor of a church in the rural farm country of Iowa. Looking back at my time with the small congregation, there are plenty of great memories. The church grew, the youth group grew, people who had wandered away from God returned, and people who had never darkened the church door stepped over the threshold. People grew in their faith. A Wednesday night children’s program was started. God did a great work and we witnessed some amazing things. It was a great time for that church.
And still, people complained about the change. Others in the community were suspicious of what was going on. Members were threatened by the all newcomers and insecure about new ideas. Newcomers brought with them a host of problems and issues. On top of the visits I received from those in pain and need, I received regular visits and phone calls from individuals angry, hurt, and frustrated with me and what was happening among us. While there were plenty of wonderful things happening, I often felt beat down and discouraged.
Acts is a great book for idealists. There are all sorts of great things happening in the early church. There are mass conversions, miracles, dreams and prophetic utterances. Today, we often quote the fact that the church met daily and shared all that they had with those in need. It was a great time in the history of the church, and it’s easy to point to the book of Acts and longingly say, "we should be more like that."
And still, there was fighting between the Jewish believers and the Greek gentile believers. There were threats from without and within. There were false accusations and strife within the leadership. There was pressure to organize and manage the thousands of new believers. There were spiritual needs of people to be raised in the faith and the physical needs of the poor, the widows and the orphans.
Things worthwhile require hard work. Success does not come easily or without a price. It’s easy to look at the success from the outside and not see the sweat, toil, confusion, frustration, tears and pain that accompanied the success. We should not be surprised when the way is difficult. The road of Life is a narrow path.