May. 11, 2017

Forgive and Fulfill - Part 1

Biblical historians report that Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome for about two years, 61-62 AD. During that time it is said that he wrote four of the books of the New Testament: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. It was often Paul's custom to address specific individuals in his letters. The NT book entitled 'Philemon' is a letter addressed to three individuals and to the church where they served. The three are Philemon, Apphia and Archippus. Philemon was a slave owner who was a Christian convert. Apphia was possibly his wife. Archippus was a minister who was evidently an integral part of the church that was based in the home of Philemon.

Philemon was the primary intended recipient of the letter. Paul addressed an issue between Philemon and one of his slaves named Onesimus. Onesimus had run away and the wording of the letter implies that the escaped man also owed an additional debt to Philemon. The escapee had been converted to discipleship through Paul's ministry and was ready to right the wrongs he had done concerning Philemon and his household.

The three individuals addressed in the salutation were evidently influential and well regarded in the community. Their loving acceptance of Onesimus upon his return would establish the climate for how others in the fellowship would receive him, forgive him and restore him. Paul expressed his example of reconciliation in the letter to the Colossians and urged the church at Colosse to regard Onesimus the same way he did - as a brother.

Colossians 4

Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant[a] in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our[b] circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.

As the people of God, we have similar responsibilities and influences. You can be a deciding factor in how other people treat those who are in need of reconciliation. It is important to follow wise, biblical examples and to be led by the Spirit of God. Reconciliation is one of our Kingdom Assignments. We are to help people reconcile to God, to themselves and to each other.

2 Corinthians 5

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Forgiveness begins the process of reconciliation. To reconcile is to restore relationship or harmony; to settle or resolve differences. We are to promote wholeness, health and wellness. Fragmented relationships have jagged edges and open spaces which damage and weaken the bond.

More to share next time. Thanks for reading!