Thursday, February 28, 2013


I’m a mutt. My great grandmother was half Choctaw. We believe one of my grandmothers may be of Jewish decent somewhere down the line. One of my grandparents was English and prohibitionist. And another part of my family tree was convicts sent from England to settle a colony in the states. So, there you have it. I’m a mutt. So often we exclude others because of their differences, but if we look at our own selves, we have enough differences in our own heritages to start a diversity group just by ourselves. Who needs multiple personalities when you know some of the characters you are related to?!

The company that employees me is big into DIVERSITY, but they aren’t the ones who wrote the book on diversity. In Acts 13:1 says there was a group of teachers and prophets. There were five in all. Being the curious person I am I want to know why these five or at least find out a little more about them.

• First was Barnabas (the encourager) and Paul’s traveling companion in missions. He’s also the one who introduced Saul/Paul to the apostles, so this tells us that Barnabas is an open and discerning person.

• Next listed is Simeon that was called Niger. The Bible does not use that term in a derogatory note by the way. Since Simeon was part of this group of teachers and prophets he was obviously a godly leader of the early church. In Latin, niger means black. Simeon was most likely from Africa from one of the Roman provinces (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary page 1190).

• The next on the list is Lucius the Cyrene. Cyrene is in Libya and was a great distance away from Antioch where this little meeting was being held.

• And then there is the man who has peaked my interest the most, Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch. Herod the tetrarch from what I’ve read is the one who had the babies in Bethlehem put to death after Jesus was born. According to Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Manaen’s name means Comforter and is described as one who eats with the king or at the king’s table. So, Manaen is brought up with Herod (vs 1). His background could not be more against Christ, and here he sits among teachers and prophets of God praying and fasting. I wonder what caused him to convert. Did he see Peter go before Herod and be taking away only to find out Peter had escaped? Did he see Stephen stoned? I can’t help but think something drastic happened in front of him to turn to Christianity, but we don’t know. What this tells me is that the person that seems least likely to become a Christian can because nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37
• And then there is Saul. The one who took great delight and felt success when he persecuted the early Christians. The one who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. Another atypical person in this group of five that God chose to use in the building of his kingdom.

What does this group say about God? What does this group and their actions say to you?

For me, it tells me diversity of backgrounds in a group can be used mightily by God. Not only is there a diversity in backgrounds but a diversity in gifts: Barnabas the encourager, Manaen a comforter, teachers and prophets. It also tells me that this group of men effected change through prayer. Their prayers reached the ear of God, and they communed with God receiving instruction from him. In whatever group you find yourself a part of, look at the individuals within it. Celebrate their diversity and be mindful of how God will use each one differently. There was no animosity or jealousy because Saul and Barnabas were selected to be missionaries. As a matter of fact it shows there was great maturity in the group because the others laid hands on them and prayed over them before sending them out to do God’s will and God’s work. Personally, I think the church needs more diversity in their groups.

If you find yourself getting your feelings hurt in a group setting, then you need to take your focus off yourself and focus on God. See how he wants you to serve within that group. Maybe you shouldn’t be part of that group and God wants you to move on. But if you are supposed to be part of that group then you got some growing up to do. Put your big girl panties on and deal with it. Your immaturity could be what is preventing that group from reaching its maximum effectiveness. Is that how you want to be known? I don’t.

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