Saturday, October 24, 2009

To: Philemon ‡ From: Paul ‡ re: Onesimus

Not a "book" but a brief and personal letter, this little missive hints at a tale of renewal, refreshment, and ultimately restoration. The runaway slave, Onesimus, has come to know the Lord and is ministering to Paul in prison. Philemon, the former slavemaster, is likewise a Christian, and host of a house-church. Paul is sending Onesimus back to Philemon, but not to return to the duties in which he formerly labored--rather, to become a fellow-worker in the fields of the Lord.

Being in the Lord changes everything. It changes relationships--the hierarchy of the larger society does not force its way into the midst of our community. Being in the Lord may take away what we formerly considered entitlements--though it does not relieve us of obligations. Wherever we are, we are called upon to be useful, to forgive the debts and sins of others, and all out of reverence for the One who has paid everything on our behalf to gain us our freedom.

Lord, today let us be reconciled among ourselves. Restore the runaway, and all who are questing for freedom, to your presence. Renew our strength as we return to your hospitality. Refresh our hearts always in Christ. Amen.

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