Saturday, September 1, 2012

Philemon 21-22

Summary retelling of Philemon 21-22

Paul tells Philemon that he is confident that he will obey God’s will.  In fact, Paul tells Philemon that he is confident that Philemon will go above and beyond his Christian duty.  Paul tells Philemon to make a room ready, because he plans to visit Philemon personally on account of all the prayers that he has received from them. 

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Paul is confident that Philemon will behave as he should in Christian duty.  In fact, Paul is confident that Philemon will go above Christian duty and act in Christian love.  Paul genuinely desires a situation where mistakes are confessed, forgiveness is given, and the life of Philemon and Onesimus begins again restored – perhaps even transformed because Onesimus has come to know the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is what Christianity should be about: confession, repentance, forgiveness, restoration, new life.  God does it with us.  Paul is confident that Philemon will model this behavior with Onesimus as well.

How often do experience the pattern of confession, repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and new life?  Do you experience it with all Christians or just a few?  What do you think is necessary to have the kind of relationship where it can be experienced?

Second Thought:
Paul plans a visit.  This visit might be two-fold.  First, Paul might be planning on checking up to see what happened between Paul and Onesimus.  This sentence in Paul’s letter does have something to do with accountability.  However, we should not read this sentence as only having something to do with accountability.  Part of Paul’s expression here is a realization that he doesn’t have any personal relationships with the church in Colossae that Epaphras started.  I’m sure Paul wants to visit the church so that he can be proud of the work that God did through Epaphras.  I’m sure he also would like to have a functioning working relationship with Philemon, who is the host of that church.  While this sentence is somewhat about accountability, it is even more about going forward in Christian relationships.

Why do people need accountability?  Why do people need genuine spiritual relationships even more?

Third Thought:
Paul is grateful for the prayers that he has received.  Prayer sometimes seems like the absolute smallest action that we can do; but when we consider that the person on the other end of the prayer is God, the small act of prayer becomes quite powerful.  It might seem like nothing for people to pray for Paul while he is in prison.  But really, what could they do about it?  Being Christians, they weren’t about to break Paul out of jail and turn him into a fugitive.  So all they could do is pray about it so that God would open the doors.  I think this is one of the powerful dynamics of prayer.  When we pray, we put things into God’s hands. When we pray, we open ourselves up to God’s action rather than trying to do it all ourselves.

What do you think about prayer?  Is it easy to see prayer as a small thing?  Is it easy to see prayer as the most powerful tool to which we have access?

Passage for Tomorrow: Philemon 23-25
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