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Electing Immigrants (45)
Christopher B. Harbin
Power structures and the gospel are basically at odds with one another. Politics and social institutions by their very design prop up our social structures, political institutions, and cultural norms. This has been true from the beginning of human society in nation after nation. We protect ourselves and our ways of doing things, often without considering how we impact others. While this is often little more than following established norms, it may also turn to active discrimination of the other as a way to increase power and control. By contrast, the gospel would have us look first to the disenfranchised and only then look to our defined patterns for living.
When do we ever take the powerless and elect them to positions of responsibility? Why would we? Would it ever make sense to even consider it? Apparently, the early church did. They followed Jesus' example of calling fishermen and tax collectors as his disciples. Electing the powerless to positions of responsibility is exactly what transpired in Acts 6 as the church elected its first deacons.
We often miss the significance of this election, as we do not speak Greek and are not Palestinian Jews. What happened in Jerusalem was that as the believers brought their tithes and offerings to care for the poor in their midst, a group of them was being overlooked. This was apparently not intentional. It was just a fact of life that we do not interact with everyone around us. Without being specifically tasked to do so, we miss the fact that there are other people that should be included in our circles of concern.
The early church was distributing food to the elderly widows among their number, but this was being carried out by longtime residents of Jerusalem who knew the other longtime residents. There was, however, a large number of Jews from the Greek-speaking world beyond Jerusalem who were believers and living in the area. ...
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