Today, we read about a church preparing to send two representatives to church members of Gentile origin in Antioch. These believers had been given some confusing and disturbing information and needed help to understand the true teaching.
This church could have sent a letter to the believers in Antioch with no personal representatives. They could have judged these believers as inferior or not important. Instead, they sent two highly valued members of their own church family to help and encourage the newer church.
The Message interprets verse 32 in this way: Judas and Silas “strengthened their new friends with many words of courage and hope”. Judas and Silas not only delivered the letter and teaching but developed relationships and friendships. Through Judas, Silas and others, a bond was created between the two communities.
It sounds pretty simple until I try to imagine myself in that situation. Carrying out this mission would mean taking time out of my life, traveling to a new place (maybe I'll like it and maybe I won't), meeting new people (some easy to get along with and some not so easy to like), refuting some teachings they have heard and stressing others. Definitely not something in my comfort zone!
Jesus showed us the magnitude of God’s love and the importance of relationships with one another. The members of this church put Jesus’ teaching into practice. They sent Judas and Silas to Antioch and I’m sure their presence conveyed the caring, encouragement and hope much more powerfully and sincerely than the most eloquent letter.