An often overlooked champion of Christ

Published 7:29pm Friday, June 10, 2011

I suppose it’s true that we have two categories of folks in the church: those in the spotlight and those in the shadows. We preacher types are in the spotlight all the time, as are the musicians. Sometimes ushers and deacons are, too.

I worked with an associate once who opined that the men who take the offering and have offertory prayers were known to the church and most often selected as deacons when we needed new ones.

The spotlight offers opportunity to be seen and to influence others. But there are a host of folk in the shadows. Their work is important, but it’s often done without much fanfare. I think the patron saint of the shadows is the New Testament personality Silas. He was overshadowed by two great lights — Paul and Peter — but he was a true champion for Christ.

The early church wrestled with the Gentile issue. The first believers were Jewish and they weren’t sure that Gentiles could come to Christ. Some even taught that non-Jews must become Jews first and then become Christians. The mother church in Jerusalem convened a council to debate the issue.

After debate, James, the brother of Jesus, suggested the church write a letter to the Antioch church telling them to respect the Jewish dietary laws so as not to offend the Jews, to be chaste in an impure world, and other than that, they were welcomed as full partners in faith.

We have many options for letters today from overnight delivery to fax and e-mail attachment, but these options weren’t available then. The church selected two letter carriers to deliver the document: Silas and Judas. These men had proved their courage (Acts 15:26) and were also preachers of the gospel. They delivered this document of destiny and one of them, Silas, decided to stay in Antioch and participate in the spiritual harvest. When Paul needed a new partner for his second missionary journey, he chose Silas. Silas supported Paul and even ended up in jail with him (Acts 16)! He saw first-hand the perils of travel and the hunger people had for God.

Later we read that he assisted Peter as the apostle wrote his first letter (1 Peter 5:12). Peter was uneducated but attuned to the Spirit of God who inspired him. Silas helped Peter word the message from God.

A man once humbly suggested that he was nothing more than a “big toe” in the body of Christ. But the big toe is important to the body! God has placed the members of the body as he determined. Some are in the spotlight and some are not, but all must be faithful.

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