I Can’t Wait So I Won’t Wait

1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth … 5 spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language … 20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations … 31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. 32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.  (Genesis 10:1-32)
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs – we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”  (Acts 2:1-11)
1 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. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” 5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. 7 So the word of God spread. (Acts 6:1-7)
Many readers feel a bit confused about why Genesis 10 gives us such a long list of nations that were descended from the three sons of Noah. They find it a bit longwinded, because they haven’t fully understood the Lord’s desire to gather to himself a diverse Family of God from every nation. This chapter forms part of the Old Testament background to the Great Commission, in which Jesus sends out his followers to preach the Gospel across the world. Jesus isn’t just looking for a crowd of converts. He wants that crowd to come from every nation of the globe.

We see this in the book of Acts. On the day the Church was founded in Acts 2, the Lord empowered his followers to proclaim the Gospel in foreign languages they had not learned. Their international crowd of three thousand converts was more than just a kickstart to Church history. It made the Church a multicultural community from the very start.

This is not to say that the apostles found multicultural church any easier than we do. By the beginning of Acts 6, racial division had reared its ugly head within the church in Jerusalem. Those who came from Greece complained that the apostles were far too attuned to the needs of those who came from Israel. The widows from Greece were being inadvertently excluded, and it provoked a crisis that serves as a fantastic model for our own church today.

First, the apostles listen carefully to the Grecian Jews, without getting defensive. Second, they take the complaint seriously instead of trying to fob off the complainers with empty words. Third, they confess they have inadvertently acted in a racist manner. Their own natural affinity to the majority culture has led them to overlook those who are part of a minority culture. Fourth, they make a structural change in order to fix the problem. The names of the deacons that they appoint are largely Greek names. In other words, they proactively create a new leadership team that better reflects the church as a whole. As a result of these four things, we are told that the Word of God spread rapidly throughout Jerusalem. It still does the same thing whenever churches take similar steps today.

In the age to come, there will be no more racial division. As Everyday Church, we can’t wait for that day … so we won’t wait! Join us in praying and working to make our church like the gloriously diverse church in Jerusalem.
1)   In what ways might we fall into the same trap, at Everyday Church, that the church in Jerusalem fell into in Acts 6? How might we be guilty of inadvertently favouring majority culture over minority cultures?

2)   What would the four steps taken by the apostles to fix this problem look like in our own context today?

3)   How often do you pray for the promotion of racial diversity amongst our Life Group leaders, our Pastorate leaders and our elders? What might happen if you added this to your prayer list when praying for our church?
Father God, we have seen this week that you delight in gathering people from every nation into your church family. As a result, we have learned to delight in the racial diversity of your church too. We can’t wait for heaven, so we won’t wait today. Please help us to raise up leaders from every background so that we can become more and more the diverse God-glorifying church that you want us to be. Amen.
If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.
Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.
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