Wilbur the pig asked Charlotte the spider, “Why did you do all this for me? I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”
“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” (Charlotte’s Web)
We read about Silas in the Acts of the Apostles and he is probably the one being named as Silvanus in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians, as well as, Peter’s first epistle. Perhaps the most dramatic episode we have that includes him is when he and Paul were arrested in Philippi.
As the two were walking through the city, they were being followed by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination. She followed them for days saying, “‘These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.’ … But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’” The demon fled, but this got them in trouble because they robbed the girls owner of a source of income, so they were beaten and thrown into jail.
That night, there was a severe earthquake and the doors of all the cells flew open and they were freed from their shackles. The guard waking and seeing this, and fearing that all the prisoners had escaped was so terrified that he was about to take his own life, but Paul called to him and taught Him about the things of God. That day, he and his entire household became believers and were baptized.
I occasionally look back on the things I preach and did so recently. I discovered that I’ve spent a good bit of time talking about others and neighbors (not a bad topic, mind you); however, as I read about Silas, I wasn’t really drawn to his work as an evangelist, his ministry, or his martyrdom. I just kept coming back to how much of a friend and companion he must have been to both Paul and later Peter, and it was something that I thought we can all, on occasion, be reminded of. Why? Because, in the work of the church, we can at times become so consumed with caring for the needs of others that we forget about and neglect those who are closest to us. Therefore, and I’m not saying you do, but in “doing” your faith, in caring for others, in looking after the widows and orphans, don’t forget about your friends. Don’t assume or take advantage of them. Take time to nurture those relationships, as well.
Consider the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. They are filled with activity. Going here and going there. Working. Ministry. Praying. All of it. But there was a lot of time – not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts – spent on the road together. Time spent around the fire in the mornings having breakfast or late in the evening after a long day just sitting quietly together, looking at the stars. There were times when they were just friends.
In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis writes, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” In ministry, in life, recognize those friends – like Silas – who are with you as you travel through the good times and the bad, and hold them close. They are truly gifts from God. As Lewis also says, “The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”