Controversies are simply a call to action

Sunday, February 13, 2011

There is nothing like a good controversy to stir up emotion, draw sides and construct plans of action.

Controversy will either prompt our passion to adapt to a changing environment to address this new issue or will give us a fleeting issue-of-the-day to stew in.

In the days when the church was still just a movement, the leaders and the people faced several controversies. Their response reminds us of the importance of being stirred to action.

As the young movement was growing, thousands of people were aligning their lives in surrender with the convictions of the Apostles. One of the core values that emerged was the desire to provide for those who have little to nothing. In these acts of compassion an issue arises. The Hellenistic widows begin to complain that they were not receiving as much food from the daily distribution as the Jewish widows.

Peeling back the layers of this onion reveals that the issue wasn't simply one of food. The issue was discrimination. The Hellenistic widows spent most if not all of their lives living in a Greek city. They adopted the language, the dress and some of the culture. For the final years of their life, they return to Jerusalem, the home of their ancestry. Needless to say, they stood out.

The Jewish widows were Jerusalem-born, Jerusalem-bred and, when they died, Jerusalem-dead. Each group was a valuable part of the church. Yet one group felt it was being overlooked.

Favoritism was the controversy of the day that could have destroyed the new movement.

When we come face to face with controversy, we come face to face with a choice. Either we look at the issue and say, "Someone somewhere somehow should do something" or we can be stirred to action and say "This is too important to do nothing."

Controversies come into our lives not to give us something to talk about at the water cooler or in break room at work. Controversies come into our lives to call us to action. The people responded because they saw the legitimacy of this need and the manner in which it was not being carried out equally. They were stirred to action.

Controversies, catastrophes and needs can be a fad to discuss or a call to action. The choice is ours.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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