group

Resolving
disputes


   

Wednesday Reflection

   

20th January 2021


..not getting their fair share..


'In those days
 when the number of disciples
 was increasing,
 the Hellenistic Jews among them
 complained against
 the Hebraic Jews because their
 widows were being overlooked
 in the daily
 distribution of food.'

....Acts 6:1


If it had been reported
in our newspapers today,
the headline might have been,
'Major Row Among Church Leaders',
or
'Racial Discrimination in New Movement,'
or
'A Scandal of Hungry Widows!".

The more moderate Luke,
recounting the story of
the early church,
writes of disagreement
among the believers.

His words are less sensational,
but honest enough to tell us
that things did not always go
smoothly with the first Christians.

The Greek-speaking Christians
felt they were not getting
their fair share.
The apostles were wise;
they listened and took
the complaint seriously.

Then they consulted,
talking to everyone.
They defined priorities;
prayer, preaching and service;
then gave clear responsibilities
so that everyone knew
who was to do what.

So far, it sounds like
a manual for good management;
the proposals were acceptable
to all - and it worked.

The story gives us an insight
on handling disagreements;
what the group dynamics
people call 'conflict'.

Disagreements can happen
anywhere and everywhere;
even in a Spirit filled
church in Jerusalem,
so we don't need to be ashamed
when they happen today.

The important thing is to
handle it the way the apostles did -
not to pretend it doesn't exist
but bring it out into the open,
so that it can be looked at,
prayed about and talked through.

Disagreement isn't necessarily
damaging or divisive;
although can be if it is ignored
until it builds up into a crisis
where everyone is fighting
their own corner.

In this story, the problem
is delt with positively,
flexibly and sympathetically.
There was an evident willingness
to listen to the other
point of view and to change.

A virtue that later Christians
haven't always had!
A fair solution,
acceptable to all, was found.

Reading through this story,
it is easy to see the Holy Spirit
motivating the leaders,
and the whole group,
to find agreement and work together.

But can we see the same Spirit
provoking the initial disagreement?
Highlighting the fact that
something was wrong,
helping them grow and develop
in how to resolve disputes.

If we can, it helps us
to acknowledge that those we
disagree with may be just
as well motivated as we are;
not 'troublemakers'
but builders;
however difficult that may be.

Luke apparently links this
incident with his next
observation in verse 7.


'So the word of God spread.'


May we become peacemakers
and further God's kingdom
here on earth.


It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Christ, Our Peace '
sung by
Marty Haugen
via the link shown below.

Blessings

Maureen