We gathered in diverse little huddles around tables and printed Bible passages to be challenged by God. Ram led us into Acts 6 and we talked about power.
We struggle to know what to do with passages like Acts 6. The apostles are leading a rapidly growing church. Widows from one particular ethnic community are being neglected when the church distributes resources. A complaint arises. The apostles solve the problem by sharing power.
It's tempting to end our study there. To say "Go and do likewise and you will have reconciled communities and ethnic justice." Sharing power ... that's the answer.
But power is a slippery thing to share. Whether in an organization or a ring forged in Mt. Doom, power resists sharing
And we see this in Acts 6.
The apostles share power, but do it in a way that creates hierarchy (or solidifies it). They will serve the word, representatives from that other community can serve the tables.
According to Hispanic theologian Justo Gonzalez, this theme is woven throughout the beginning of Acts. The apostles attempt to create hierarchy and bounded circles. God blows them up.
The apostles choose Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot. God chooses Paul and pours out his Spirit liberally at Pentecost.
The apostles stay in Jerusalem. God scatters the rest of the church to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (eventually dragging the apostles with them).
And the apostles choose deacons. Men commissioned to serve tables. But these men rise above their commissioning. Stephen preaches one of the longest sermons in Acts. Philip becomes an evangelist.
Yes, power was shared in the early church, shared across ethnic lines and with great effect.
But let's remember who did the real sharing. It wasn't the management of the church. It wasn't liberally enlightened apostolic leaders. It wasn't the Twelve who shared. Power was shared beyond their efforts ... and despite their efforts.
The Spirit of God causes the sharing of power.
And if we would see power shared across ethnic lines in InterVarsity, we will need the Spirit to move.
Our structures are too set.
Our momentum is too strong.
Our hearts are too hard.
Oh, we will share power. And we do. But only as the Spirit wrests it from us.
May the Spirit continue to cause us to share power.