My thoughts today center around Philemon. I have always loved this little book and continue to notice different things each time I read it. Today, my attention was drawn to God’s sovereignty and to what it means to truly forgive. Onesimus had been Philemon’s slave, but had stolen from him and run away. God intervened and somehow (sovereignty) ended up in prison with Paul who then proceeded to lead him to Christ. How cool is that? God put the runaway slave with the man who not only would lead him to Christ but was also a friend of his master. Now, Philemon had a right to be upset with Onesimus and in those days it would have turned some heads to even allow him back into his house as a slave. However, Paul was not asking Philemon to allow him back as a slave, but to bring him into the house as a brother – a brother in Christ.
Can you imagine? It reminds me of the scene in the movie “The Blind Side” where the rich women are mocking Mrs Tuohy for allowing that “large black man” into her home. They question her decisions and when she calls ‘em on it, one of them starts backpeddling and says, “Honey you’re changing that boys’ life.” She responds, “No, He’s changing mine.”
If Philemon allowed Onesimus into his home, you can be assured there would be talk around town. Philemon’s social standing would be in question. But there’s another side too – forgiveness would be put on display and would become the talk of the town. Forgiveness would become witness. The story would spread. What it means to be a brother in Christ would be the gossip. Forgiveness would be personified as the slave became a brother. God would be glorified. Rather than Philemon changing Onesimus’ life, I can imagine Philemon saying that Onesimus is changing his. When God brings his people together, he changes everyone. Good stuff. Great God! Thank God for Jesus who made this forgiveness possible.
– Steve Corn