I missed writing to each o you since last Monday (no Verizon signal where I was at a church camp). Jumping back in, we are looking at the opportunities the Gospel gives us and using the book of Philemon to do so. Here are verses 8-22 of this short book:
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.
Onesimus had been a runaway slave. He had somehow found Paul in Rome. We do not know all the details of the encounter nor the background of his escape from Philemon’s house but there are some things we do know:
He was given the Opportunity to follow Jesus. Paul became his spiritual father by sharing the Gospel with him and seeing him follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is the #1 opportunity we all have. Someone has shared it with you…that Jesus has lived for you, died for you, rose for you and loves you. Have you responded to the opportunity?
The Opportunity to walk in Integrity. Though he ran away before he knew Jesus as Lord he was faced with the consequences of his actions even after his life had been changed. How would he handle it? Would he make things right with his former master? Would he seek forgiveness or keep running?
The Opportunity to learn from a mature disciple. Paul was an elder and more mature follower of Jesus. Onesimus had been give a great gift to be able to spend time with him and learn from him. I have several mature disciples that I seek out and learn from…do you have a person like that in your life?
We aren’t all runaway slaves but we have all been slaves to sin if nothing else. Jesus promises to cut our bonds when we come to him…setting us free both now and forever!