Here in Acts 6, we see the first real internal tension in the Jerusalem church. And we’ll see that the tension arises, before the “bad” Gentile’s come in. Before the “good” Gentiles come in. Before the Samaritans come in. It’s a tension that arises between the Hebrew Jews and the Hellenistic Jews. Now, we don’t know how identifiable these two groups were in the church - we don’t know if they had separate services for different languages our churches does, but we do know that they were distinct enough that tensions at times did arise between the groups, and here in Acts six we see the heart of the issue is that one group is feeling neglected, not only feeling - they were being neglected - as if they were not fully part of the priorities of the church.
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"Is the gospel for people like me?" - I've often heard this question asked, especially in sharing the gospel with people from different backgrounds. Many people think that Christianity is a Western religion for Europeans, yet in the ancient world the perception was exactly the opposite. To the Roman "European", Christianity was an Eastern, Jewish religion. The Book of Acts was written to one such Roman believer to assure him that Christianity was indeed a faith for all people. In the Book of Acts, Jesus continues his ministry through His Spirit-empowered church to save people from every nation for the glory of God.
This week we addressed the reality of ethnic tension and what God is doing about it. Evangelical silence regarding ethnic tension is inexcusable. Not only because people are hurting, but because we have a real answer. In this sermon from Ephesians 2-3, we see that Jesus tears down the wall of ethnic hostility, by being saviour of all. However, the profound innovation of the church age is that Christ is gathering the nations *together* in local churches that display the manifold wisdom of God through their ethnic diversity.