Reflection on Philemon



I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective when you perceive all the good you may do for Christ.

This is Paul’s letter to Philemon and the church that meets at his house.

Paul recalls Philemon’s love for the saints and faith In Christ. He prays that his faith sharing will be effective.

Paul turns to the issue of Onesimus a slave who had run away from Philemon’s household and had since become a christian under Paul’s ministry. Paul urges Philemon to receive Onesimus not as a slave but a brother. Paul promises to make up any financial loss Philemon might have incurred.

Some people say that Paul tacitly excused slavery because he did not write against it. In a society that was economically dependent on human labour, slavery was a given fact of life. In a situation where christians had no power, writing against slavery would not have changed anything.

Here in the short letter to Philemon we see how the gospel works to transform society one person at a time. Paul’s argument is that Philemon should treat Onesimus as a brother for whom Christ had died not as property.

Our situation is different but the principle is the same. We share the gospel and act for righteousness, and lives are changed one at a time. We cannot easily end abortion but we can offer alternatives to people considering a termination, changing one life at a time. We may not be able to remove tensions between ethnic groups but we can build bridges of friendship and help individuals to find reconciliation and peace in Christ.

When christians all work on their little piece of the puzzle we find that together the Body of Christ is able to have a big influence.

Lord, where are you asking me to bring change today? Show me the one person I can share my faith with today. Amen.


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