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Learning Curves

Mar 18, 2011 at 11:40

 

Friends,  Most will read the book of Acts and see the first apostles as the epitome of maturity, power and grace who did not need to learn or develop.  Indeed as Luke writes  Acts he records the events without any value judgements and we could think that each action was exactly as it should have been.  Is that so?  

In Acts 6:1 Luke records "there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution".   Cultural prejudice in paradise!  The response of the twelve was to appoint deacons to make sure no prejudice was involved in food distribution since they did not think it  "desirable that (they) should leave the word of God and serve tables".    Interesting response from men whose feet the Master had washed and who had heard His words "Whatever is done unto the least is done unto me."  They still had not absorbed the teaching of Matthew 20:25- 28 given when they were arguing about who was going to be greatest!

The sentence, "But we will give ourselves continually to pray and the ministry of the word."  has been used and abused to support a priestly, clergy, special class over the rest of the church.  I wonder if the false apostles which Paul talked about used this as well?  Was this why Paul was so insistent in his testimony and teaching of Acts 20:33- 35 that apostolic servants work  to provide for not only themselves but also for those who are with them? 

The apostles were commanded in Acts 1:8 to be witnesses to Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria "and to the end of the earth."  By Acts 8:1  they and all the church were still in Jerusalem but due to "great persecution.... they were all scattered... except the apostles".  The apostles were the ones who heard the command to go and they were the only ones who stayed?  Why were they able to stay?  Acts 6:7 records that "a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith".  Had the apostles become friendly with or enough of a part of the religious establishment that they were protected and did not have to flee with the "ordinary" believers?

Even when the apostles had begun to go, Galatians 3:9 records that  they were only still going to the "circumcised" while giving "the right hand of fellowship" that Paul and Barnabas should go to the Gentiles.  Twelve for a minority group in the empire and and two for the rest of the world?  The truth, of course is that the twelve did go to the world and gave their lives for the gospel but it took them awhile!    They had their journey.  They had their learning curve.

Maybe this is why Paul was a bit dismissive of them when he says that James, Peter and John "seemed to be something" twice in Galatians 2:6 and then says that they "seemed to be pillars" in verse 9.  Or maybe Paul's problem with them was them being unclear over the circumcision thing and having to confront Peter on that one?   

Why did he have to confront Peter?  When Peter was alone with them, he ate with both the Gentiles- no problem but when the believers from Jerusalem came who were still jealous of the law, Peter separated himself and would no longer eat with the Gentiles.   Galatians 2:11- 14 records that Paul, rebuking him for his duplicity,   "withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed.... before them all"  since this duplicity had already spread to the rest of the team.  This is real iron sharpening iron and being done publicly.   Do you think Paul was out of line?   Do you think those you walk with would accept public rebuke?  

It could be said that one of the steepest learning curves for the apostles was how to share the Kingdom without imposing their Jewish culture and background.  Peter needed a vision to prepare him to go to the house of Cornelius.  The first council was convened to settle this issue.  One of the most heartening comments about "The Luke 10 Manual" comes from a brother who has chosen to remain in his muslim culture, "This manual presents the Kingdom of God stripped of all western religious institutionalism and culture values like nothing else that I have read."    May I encourage you to go to www.lulu.com and order your copy?

Many have commented that one proof that the Scriptures are inspired is that they give a real accounts of the heroes of faith, not sanitized, romanticized and idealized fictions.  The struggles are there.  The failures are there.  The world is not offended by our struggles.  It is offended by our attempt to hide our struggles and failures behind masks of spirituality and perfection.  Humility and struggle does not offend but hypocrisy does.  Yes, the early apostles and the early church had a learning curve.  

I trust that does not offend you.

I trust that encourages you.

We have certainly had our learning curve!     

Thanks to all of you who are sharing our journey.

Steve & Marilyn

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Comments



Michael, 19-03-11 09:21:
Great insight Steve. Thanks for posting this.


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