Resolving Cultural Conflicts

May 17, 2020    Pastor George Hindman, UPC    Sermon Series: "Beyond Colorblind" Scripture: Acts 6:1-7

The dispute that arose in the church in Acts 6 was more than an argument about who was served at the tables as the community gathered. In play was a conflict that went back at least four centuries to the time when Alexander the Great conquered the known world (Mediterranean Europe, Asia Minor, Palestine, Egypt and North Africa) spreading Greek language and culture wherever his armies conquered. Many Jews were attracted to the ideas and culture of the Greeks and adopted their patterns of behavior and thought. Citing God’s repeated commands to His chosen people to remain culturally distinct from their neighbors, this battle for culture spilled into the synagogues, the temple and – after Pentecost – the early Church. Where last week’s text highlighted God’s opening of the good news to the Gentiles (non-Jews), the conflict in this text is between Hellenistic (Greek culture adopting) and Hebraic (Jewish traditionalist) Jewish Christians. Before you dismiss the importance of this today, think about the points of disagreement within your church. Chances are, you will find the disagreement is between those who advocate for adhering to Scripture and those who advocate for change to conform with the values of the culture.
In a multi-ethnic setting, the divisions may be amplified because of miscommunication due to different cultural norms around power distance.