April 20, 2006

Division of Labor

According to the notes in the NAB, this division of labor was not so much between preaching and serving the poor, but between preaching and keeping the financial accounts that recorded the distribution of food to the needy (wasn't that Judas' former job?). This is an interesting distiction, becuse it's one thing to divide preaching from serving the poor, another to divide it from monetary concerns.

The first possibilty bothers me ... like David and Larry pointed out, this seems to create a moral hierarchy (preaching to others is better than helping others), and also seems to seperate contemplation from action, when I'd like them to be combined.

The second possibility seems more acceptable ... to divide preaching from money worries. I may be going off on an unrelated tangent, but this is one thing I appreciate about the catholic model ... priests are not directly "paid" for preaching by those to whom they preach, at least not exactly. And they don't decide how the money that does come in will be spent. Thus preaching will not be swayed by concerns like ... am I preaching popular stuff that will bring in paying customers? Hmmm, Bob hasn't been in church recently, listening to my great sermons - let's not give him any charity.

At any rate, the NAB also points out that this passage was probably put in to introduce Stephen, who will have a big part to play later as a martyr. Whenever he is mentioned, he's not shown taking care of the finances or handing out food, but preaching.




5 Comments:

At 8:21 AM, Blogger xianchick said...

It is important for us to extend grace to all people and recognize their divinity as a part of God's.

Sometimes the veil of time can cause us to see the early christians as objectified entities rather than as people. It is easy to pigeonhole someone who is never going to find out about it... but that is not the way.

Our christian forefathers were very dedicated and were willing to go to any length for the Lord (remember Nero burning christians as torches at his dinner parties?).

The picture of one who is willing to be martyred in front of thousands of Romans for the message of Christ, doesn't quite mix with the idea of a petulant "I-won't-give-you-charity-if-you
don't-listen-to-my-sermons" fellow. I'm not really able to swallow the jump.

As far as I understand it, there was big debate over whether all xians should try to be all things; naturally division of "gifts" began because as the sect grew, it became more and more difficult for each person to try to successfully carry the entire message.

Are the basic quaker beliefs of divinity in all and compassion towards everybody strong enough to withstand even the walls of time?

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Hi xianchick :-). I think you're right about the division of labor. I remember reading that Paul, for instance, was reprimanded for moonlighting - doing other work besides preaching.

About the kind of people the early christians were ... obviously they were very dedicated and brave and inspired by the holy spirit. But they were also human, with foibles and flaws, I think.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Don't you suppose they may have been 'good, bad, and indifferent' just like a present day church. Consecrated, hypocritival, honest, conniving. The whole gamut. I don't think we need to put them up on a pedastal, although many were no doubt to be highly honored.

 
At 8:29 PM, Blogger xianchick said...

I've really thought about this one a lot, and although after Nicea, I think the papacy and friends started having a political/monetary motivation for being involved with the movement.

As far as the earlier folk go, I would have to say that their dedication in the face of being martyred was actually genuine.

We'll take Paul for instance. I think that he was a self-righteous a-hole, but I honestly believe he was genuine...

So as far as the good, bad and indifferent go, I would have to soften both the good/bad to truly well intentioned; but for the first 3 and a half centuries, indifferent would be highly improbable.

:)

 
At 9:27 PM, Blogger crystal said...

Well, it is hard to find fault with the guys Jesus himself picked :-). And I do think they were well-intentioned, courageous, genuine. But just a few scriptural passages ago, a couple of the church members were struck dead when they didn't turn over all their money to the church ... money may have cused some conflicts even back then.

 

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