Thursday, July 13, 2017

July 13 - Silas, Missionary, Leader Among the Brothers, Companion of Paul

Contrary to what many might think, it wasn't easy figuring out how to be "the Church" in that first generation after Jesus--in the days of Peter and Paul. In fact, Paul and Barnabas once were forced to insist that some of their brothers and sisters misunderstood the nature of Christ's Body because they required that gentile converts first be circumcised if they were going to become Christians.They did so because a party of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem had taught this to some of the gentiles converted under their mission and ministry. The debate was not quickly resolved and so they took it to Jerusalem and the other Apostles so that they might return to unity and cooperation under the trusted decision of those who had walked with their common Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As they traveled to the Church where reconciliation would be gained and unity reinforced, Paul and Barnabas preached to all who would listen and many of the gentiles were converted to faith and trust in the Slaughtered and Resurrected Lamb of God. 

At that Church meeting, Peter and the others decided that Paul and Barnabas were correct and praised God for the work that God was doing among the gentiles through Paul. In that moment, the Church trusted its leaders and placed its faith in the saving grace and mercy of their forgiving Lord and in doing so came back together again as one Body devoted to their one Lord. the ability of the whole Body of Christ to interpret the movements of the Holy Spirit than in their own individual abilities to sense God's movement among them. They sent Judas (the one they called Barsabbas) and Silas with the letter because these two were leaders among their brothers and sisters in the faith and would capably represent the whole body. The letter they carried with them read:

So, the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem decided to choose men from among themselves to go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas to deliver a letter of blessing and encouragement. They did this with the reconciled and united consent of the whole congregation--none abstained because of hurt feelings but, instead, even those who had resisted placed greater faith in
"To our Gentile brothers and sisters,
We've heard that some have left our congregation and have said things that disturbed and unsettled you--suggesting that you must first become a Jew to become a follower of Jesus the Crucified. Know that they did so not as representative of us but, instead, as representatives of themselves. The men who bring you this letter are our representatives and they come alongside Barnabas and Paul whom we love and who have risked their lives for the sake of our common Lord. These men are Judas and Silas and they will tell you all of what we have discussed and decided and you should understand them to represent each and every one of us. The Holy Spirit has taught us not to impose a further burden of faith upon you but only to ask you to abstain from a few things: food that has supported idolatry, consuming blood, consuming what has been strangled, and from illicit sex. If you will avoid these things then you will be fine. Farewell."
The congregations received the letter with much jubilation and were heartily encouraged by the unity and reconciliation that continued to sweep through Christ's Church like a mighty wind. Silas (and Judas) spoke not only for the congregation of Jerusalem but, also, for God and said much to edify, teach, and encourage the gentile believers who they encountered. There with Paul and Barnabas they taught and engaged in the ministry of the Church among both the converted and unconverted.

Paul and Barnabas split after a few more days over a dispute about whether or not John Mark should be brought along in their missionary journeys. Paul was unwilling to travel with him because he felt that John Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia. So, Paul and Barnabas split. Silas joined Paul and began traveling alongside him as a missionary to the early Church in its many diverse and distant cities. He was arrested alongside Paul, he was beaten alongside Paul, and he sang hymns of praise while he sat in prison alongside Paul. They strengthened the Church wherever they traveled and encouraged the Body of Christ always to seek God's will and to be reconciled one to another. Silas had been selected to represent a congregation to a people they had been desperate to be reconciled to and had, in the process, become a missionary who worked with Paul to reconcile the world to God.

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