Thursday, August 30, 2012

Philemon 15-16

Summary retelling of Philemon 15-16

Paul tells Philemon that perhaps Onesimus ran away so that he could meet Paul, hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then return to Philemon as a Christian brother rather than as a slave.  Paul’s hope is that Philemon will be able to show forgiveness to Onesimus and see him not as a slave who cannot be trusted but as a person who has repented of their sin and joined the ranks of the faithful.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
This idea that Onesimus ran away so that he could find Jesus through Paul is one to which we need to pay special attention.  We need to be clear that Paul is not saying that God called Onesimus to run away from Philemon and be disobedient.  God does not call us into disobedience – especially since the Greco-Roman concept of slavery was far different from the modern concept of slavery.  However, what Paul is really claiming is the God can redeem disobedience.  God may not have called Onesimus to be disobedient, but He certainly can work through the act to bring about reconciliation.  That’s what neat about God.  He can take a selfish act of disobedience and work it out for His glory.

Has God ever redeemed anything in your life that you did for all the wrong reasons?  How were you able to grow closer to God through such a time?

Second Thought:
Paul focuses Philemon’s attention to the reality that since Onesimus is a follower of Jesus Christ then Philemon and Onesimus will be Christian brothers forever.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that Onesimus will stop being a slave.  However, it does mean that Onesimus needs to respect and honor Philemon as his master and Philemon needs to remember to treat Onesimus as a brother, not as property.  Our faith may not change our station in life, but it certainly should change how we interact with the people around us and how they interact with us.

Does your faith change how you interact with the people around you?  Are there people in your life that you should interact with as a Christian brother or sister but you don’t?

Third Thought:
Paul sending Onesimus back to Philemon – and the fact that Onesimus actually did go back – is a huge sign of repentance.  Onesimus’ return is a huge time for Onesimus to confess his wrong to Philemon.  This is always the first step to restoring relationships.  We must acknowledge and confess our mistakes before we can ever hope to receive forgiveness and work on our life.

Is repentance easy?  Do you think it was easy for Onesimus to return to Philemon?  What do you think went through Onesimus’ head as he returned?

Passage for Tomorrow: Philemon 17-20
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