Acts 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
We live in a world of constant discontinuous change. Discontinuous change is a term to describe a type of change that is not sequential to occur as one might expect. For example, the recent American Presidential election of 2016.
Or even more recent, the current election of England’s Prime Minister who is now calling to split the government up and create an entire new country if possible.
These events are undeniably the sort of thing that people would say they just could not have predicted would occur. The odds were not even considered because of the mere implausibility of them ever occurring.
These are just two examples of what discontinuous change looks like once it has occurred. And that’s the thing. You can’t predict it because it doesn’t fit the trajectory of plausible possibilities which might occur – even with the widest odds given.
We live in such a world today.
But our world today is not by any means a world that is isolated and an anomaly when one considers world history. And more specifically, the history of the Christian Church.
The Church has made its most stark and contrasting leaps forward in fulfilling God’s providential plan in moments that were extremely discontinuous.
No one could or would have predicted an dead man who amounted to no great seat of earthly power or rule to become the foundation of a world religion.
And no one, not one single human being expected that a man could be publicly crucified, publicly buried and then publicly raised from the dead.
That’s as discontinuous as it get.
There is yet another example I would draw your attention to in this passage mentioned above in Acts. 6:7.
This reflection is made following two significant events in the early origins of the Christian Church.
The first is the decisive role the disciples of Christ appropriated for themselves; in full agreement with the entirety of those who would be considered the Body of believers – the Church.
The second was the role of dedicated men – soon to be women also – who were assigned to care for that constituency of believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
They would be known as Deacon’s or servants of the Church.
After these two designating events were established, the church had now clearly defined two dimensions of servanthood within its ranks. The first – to serve in direction to Christ and the other to serve in the direction of the people of the Way.
We learn that this event is one primary impetus for the growth of the church.
But another, more obscured event occurred as well. The event was capped off – if you will – by the conversion of Jewish religious figures and leaders becoming converted into the Christian faith also.
What Holy Spirit illuminated is that it was not recorded that the Jewish priest became Christians first – before the masses.
But rather it was the masses who first responded to the power of God’s promise; the saving of their souls and the fulfillment of a long forgotten promise. This is the historically recorded timeline of events which resulted in large numbers of converted Gentile’s and Jews.
Not the religious leaders’ powerless demonstration of a law-oriented – performance based obstacle course style of relationship with God.
The event is Marke for us to show us that the Jewish religious leadership were converted as a result of the non-religious, non-pious, and non-Christian who were a priori converted to Christ.
The implication is clear. The Jewish and religious leaders of that day were not the ones leading the movement that would become the Church. They were – as expected – inhospitable to everything Jesus Christ represented. His very appearance threatened their social class and religious valuation.
It was the everyday Joe or Joesephine.
The simple, uneducated, the man – and woman in most instances – who created the friction and dissonance that would cause the Jewish religious leadership to reflect and ultimately re-consider their religious loyalties.
The people who had been effectively first touched and transformed internally and externally, would become those people whom these priest would come into contact with. Ultimately bringing about their conversion and obeisance to Jesus Christ and His recently established leadership.
I wonder – what would the present day church resemble if the lay person – the non-professional – became the witness of Christ – rather than its leadership?
Instead of the religious dignitaries serving as the objectified representation of the Church. I’m referring to those with no visible role of leadership or political influence.
It is apparently clear to me and those who have committed their lives to the rule and role of God’s Kingdom being realized in all facets of life; that the [leaders] of Western Church in large part have adopted allegiances to nationalistic forms of religion; in many ways resembling the same distinguishing markings of 1st century Israel.
A religious self-engradizing cult of power, popularity, and self-preservation.
But Holy Spirit is also just as active as then also. And like then – moving in, thru and amongst those least viewed as God’s representatives to the world at large.
Which brings me to my question: Can you imagine the benefits of living in an up-side down world?
What would our churches look like if the ones who actually became such forces of Gods righteousness and grace began to influence the world-oriented hearts and minds of church leaders – for God’s’ Kingdom?
I am clearly referring to leaders who are committed to a fraternity rather than Sovereignty.
And lest I be be ill-rebuked; I do acknowledge that this is not all – unfortunately though it’s truly hard to tell sometimes.
This is at large part due to how present day Christianity has allowed notoriety and commercialized mouthpieces – who have a flare for the sensational and the ease of skill for emotive manipulation – to become those who influence not only society at large – but also the offices of Church leadership.
But what if – like in this historical account – we discovered that graceless and carnal leadership can and should be influenced by those whom they serve?
What if the church became responsible for cultivating their leadership through the divine power, truth, love and grace of Holy Spirit’s activity – demonstrated within their lives?
I suspect we would exist in an upside-down world. Perhaps as those found guilty and culpable to the accusations described in Acts 17:6 by a mob of wicked men who declared that “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here alsheno,…”
I believe it’s worth a little imaginative consideration – don’t you?
– a. david griffin