One of the reasons that I love reading the Bible is because it is such a brutally honest book. Despite what people think (usually those who have never read it!) the Bible never shies away from the hard realities of life, it never sugar coats the stresses and strains which life inevitably throws up.
One such occasion is found in Acts 6 where the newly founded Christian church, after experiencing remarkable growth, starts doing something sad; bickering amongst themselves. The occasion of this infighting was that some of the needy church widows were getting neglected in the daily food distribution. What compounded this problem was that those who were neglected were ‘Hellenist widows’ in contrast to the ‘Hebrew widows’. These women were all Jewish but the Hebrew ladies were more culturally conservative and who would probably have worshiped in the Hebrew language.
The Hellenist ladies would have been more progressive and modern in their outlook and dress. They would probably have worshiped in the language of the day- Greek. Hence, it is not hard to see how the two groups, tending to distrust each other at the best of times, could easily have despised one another given the oversight in food distribution.
It is not hard to imagine that some of you, my readers, know all about church shenanigans. Either intentionally or unintentionally you have been deeply hurt by the rough and tumble of church life and by those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Tragically, in Ireland today, there is no shortage of such desperately hurt people. My heart goes out to all of you and I will fully understand if you feel that ‘if that is church, then stuff it!’
Please allow me to say two things. Firstly, you may feel deeply suspicious of ‘Calvary Church Westport’ and may I say that you have every reason to be- we are a group of sinners; sinners who have been saved by a living faith in Jesus Christ.
Secondly, as a church, weak and feeble as we are, we are committed NOT to bishops or popes or bigwigs in high places, but to living under the authority of Jesus Christ. This means that all of us in the church- both leaders and the led- seek to live transparent lives under the authority of the Holy Scriptures. It is one and the same standard for every one of us. In turn this means that we seek to deal with problems, when they come up, in the same manner as the early Church did.
We read- ‘Then the twelve summoned the multitude (the church) of the disciples and said, ‘it is not desirable that we should leave the Word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation and full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.’
In a wonderfully above board manner the Apostles acknowledged the problem and immediately set about rectifying the situation. Now, Calvary Church’s leaders are not Apostles so we fall far short of their wisdom. However, we would say to everyone who has given up on church to come and visit our meetings (without any obligation whatsoever) to hear about the greatness of our God.
As a group of believers we may look pretty corny but we do have a Great God who has changed our lives and is committed to keep working within us. It is this which gives us hope, and it is this firm and certain hope that we invite you to share.