We often pray for unity. To arrive at perfect unity, we must get to the root of division. Here is a fascinating question: what was the first division or split in the community of faith? Some say it was between Jew and Gentile. To be more exact, the first division was between Hebrew-speaking Jewish believers in Israel and the Greek-speaking Jewish immigrants and converts. (See Acts 2:5 – 11.)
In those days, when the number of disciples increased, the Greek-speaking Jews began to complain about the Hebrew speakers concerning their widows being left out of the daily distribution of aid.
The tensions between the two “sub-groups” had to do with two key topics: language and money. Which language would be used in discussions by those making the key decisions? What are the standards for distributing money donated to the community? Amazingly enough, these two issues are among the primary challenges affecting cooperation in our own congregations and ministries in Israel today.
We have a beautiful and loving unity between the pastors and partners at Tikkun International, Ahavat Yeshua, Tiferet Yeshua, Tents of Mercy, Revive Israel, Gateways Beyond, Paul Wilbur ministries and other friends. We met recently for four days of dialogue, sharing, prayer and decision making on administrative issues.
One question that constantly arose: what language do we use when we are together? If it is primarily the immigrants and internationals, then the language is English. If it is mostly the local Israeli group, then the language is Hebrew. But what happens when we have a mixed group? To what degree do we need to translate in our open congregational meetings?
When we have key strategic decisions to make concerning salaries, donations, and expenses, what language should we use? What about the different standards of living in Israel and internationally? Should the expenditures be different? Who decides how the budget is allocated?
The language and the money have a lot to do in determining who has the authority and who is leading. As they struggled with issues of language and money in the first community of faith, so do we today. It wasn’t easy 2,000 years ago—and it is not easy today.
If we can overcome these two tensions as the Apostolic community did in Acts 6, perhaps we can get to the miraculous revivals that we see in Acts 1 through 5. Please pray with us for wisdom.
Asher serves as president of Tikkun Global family of ministries and congregations, dedicated to the dual restoration of Israel and the Church. He is founder of the Revive Israel five-fold ministry team, and oversees both Ahavat Yeshua and Tiferet Yeshua congregations in Israel.
He and his wife Betty share a passion for personal prayer and devotion, local evangelism and discipleship in Hebrew, and unity of the Body of believers worldwide.
Asher was raised in a conservative Jewish home and holds degrees from Harvard University, Baltimore Hebrew College and Messiah Biblical Institute. He has authored numerous books, tracts and articles.