This week I get to fulfill one of my pastoral ‘bucket-list’ items by serving as Camp Pastor of the church camp I both grew up at as a child and that I served as a Youth Sponsor several years. It is an opportunity that I couldn’t dream of passing up. At the same time, it is an opportunity to live in sweltering heat and mosquito infestation for five days. Yes, opportunities always present us with a choice. What criteria do you use when making choices or deciding on how to respond to an opportunity?
In the small Bible book of Philemon we find a great drama: an imprisoned ministry leader, a runaway slave and a slaveowner who must choose how to respond to an opportunity. It is a one chapter book and the heart of the story is found in verses 8-22:
8 For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, 9 I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus,10 appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I fathered him while I was in chains. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back to you as a part of myself. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place.14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but even more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.
17 So if you consider me a partner, accept him as you would me. 18 And if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, may I have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I hope that through your prayers I will be restored to you.
For today’s devotional time, simply think of all the opportunities presented here in this text. There are a bunch of them! Maybe respond back with what you see. I’ll be writing on several each day. The life of a follower of Jesus is all about seeing the opportunities in front of us and responding appropriately!