All posts tagged Philemon

Philemon: Partners in the Gospel

We continue our look at the short, personal letter of Philemon this week with a little review. Last week, we looked at the occasion for the letter—the apostle Paul is trying to reconcile a runaway slave named Onesimus (which means “useful”) with his master Philemon, and in doing so Paul wants to erase the distinction of status between them. He wants them to see each other as brothers in Christ, no longer as slave and master. Such is the reconciling power of the gospel that Paul preaches.

In many ways, this letter is also an echo of the very thing that Jesus taught and practiced. In fact, we might look at the situation in Philemon as being very similar to the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. You remember how that story goes—a young man takes his inheritance early and runs off on his own to a far country. In effect, he is saying to his father, “I wish you were dead, I am taking what’s coming to me,” and he heads off to a far country where he squanders everything. He is so broke that he finds himself slopping pigs and eating what they’re eating—about as low as a Jewish boy could go.

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From Useless to Useful: Philemon and the Power of Grace

Philemon 1-11

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already arrived at Thanksgiving week this year. Seems like only yesterday it was Fourth of July and we were enjoying the summer sun. Advent and Christmas will soon be here, so we’ve reached the beginning of the “holiday season.”

The holidays bring a lot of joy, but also a lot of stress—particularly the kind of stress that revolves around relationships. As we gather with distant family and friends, there are bound to be old conflicts that surface, old grudges that don’t seem to go away, and annoyances that tend to be magnified. As someone put it to me once, “I like the holidays because they remind me why I don’t live close to my family!” In a culture that is always talking about “family first,” we sometimes forget that family can be our most significant challenge.

And that’s just our family of origin. As we said in the last series, the church is also a family—a family on mission, an oikos of faith. The relationships within that family are vital and they have some bearing and impact on the relationships we might have with our biological family or family of origin. It’s in the church that we learn how to be better at living with and loving one another as Jesus commanded.

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