Okay, those of you who know me know that I try to stay as far away from the political divisiveness as possible. I believe there are stands that need to be made but right now, in this environment, social posting usually only widens the chasm. So, imagine my surprise when the scripture reading for today just smacked me in the face and said, “You have got to address this.” Here we go!
Philemon is one chapter long. A very personal note between Paul and the guy the book is named after, Philemon. As much as we can tell, this is the deal; Philemon is a Believer (so far so good) and a slave owner (uh-oh). He has a slave named Onesimus who has run away, hooked up with Paul, helped him in his ministry, and has ALSO become a believer. (Ahh, the plot thickens.) Paul writes Philemon, who he has never met, urges him to take Onesimus back, not as a slave but as a brother, and, get this, offers to pay for any damages that this whole deal might cost.
Just as interesting as what Paul says is what he doesn’t say. He doesn’t CANCEL him and say we will never speak your name again. He doesn’t DEMAND that Philemon do the right thing or be booted from FaceBook. He doesn’t challenge whether or not he is truly a Christian. And he doesn’t even order him to get rid of any other slaves he might have. He just lovingly and affirmingly suggests Philemon do this kindness for their “mutual brother,” Onesimus. And thanks him in advance because he’s sure Philemon WILL do the right thing. And then he tops it all off by inviting himself over for a weekend of hangin’ out, and bingeing on Netflix videos.
Here’s what I make up about that:
- Canceling somebody doesn’t work.
- There are things that we see as terribly wrong now that in a different time, a different culture, were not uncommon. Judging the past by the standards of today does not work.
- In fact, judging just does not work.
- What worked then is what works now, speaking the truth in love, standing up for the underserved and the downtrodden, and believing the best about everyone. Then being willing to break bread together, talk about stuff, and keep the relationship moving forward.
Whooo, I am so glad that political rant is over. Do something kind for someone today even if you disagree with their stance on…well, anything.
Read Psalm 143, Proverbs 11, and Philemon 8-21. Remember what we are doing for these 40 Days:
- time in the Word
- time in His Presence
- time in for His people
- time for His Church
- time for His Creation.
See you tomorrow.