We fought and conquered our forefathers in the Revolutionary War. We fought and conquered our brothers in the Civil War. We fought and conquered our neighbors in World War I, and World War 11, and Korea, and Vietnam, and a few small wars, if any war is small. When will war ever stop?
William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell.” This came in a speech made to the graduating class of Michigan Military Academy, June 19, 1879. Some one else has put it, “War is not an act of God but a crime of man.” When will we ever stop hating and fighting each other?
I want to contend that the message from the letter to Philemon in the Bible holds the answer for us.
This private letter of intercession by the Apostle Paul to Philemon concerning a runaway slave, Onesimus, is very revealing. The primary concern of this letter was for reconciliation between two people, a Christian slave owner and a run away slave, who has become a Christian. The issue is that Paul has a converted slave on his hands. What should he do with him? Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon. Why? How could he do that? Onesimus is an illegal fugitive. Legally he belonged to Philemon. So, according to law this was the thing for Paul to do. But, the circumstances have changed as Onesimus is no longer just a slave, he is a Christian. Philemon, his master, is no longer just his master, he is a brother to Onesimus since they both are Christians. There is now a relationship that is greater than any other in this world. We as Christians still have different roles to play but we are ONE as children of God. We are kin, with Jesus as our brother and God as our Father. Christians are brothers and sister in Christ. It does not matter the color of our skin, or our nationality, or any other differences. We are one.
Paul lovingly is asking Philemon to forgive Onesimus, to restore him and to receive him as a brother in Christ. There is still master – slave relationship but there is a higher, greater relationship because of Christ. Paul did not call for a revolution, revolt against slavery, because the Roman Empire was build on slavery. Social issues, in this case slavery, are corrected when the heart is corrected. Christian brotherhood does away with all class, race distinctions and social barriers. External differences are abolished in Christ. Isn’t that the meaning of Galatians 3:26-29 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus., for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Not violence or force, but changed lives is the true way to peace and harmony.
Abraham Lincoln was asked what he was going to do with the Southerners when they were defeated in the Civil War. He answered, “I will treat them as if they had never been away.”
That is the way God treats us. We were all runaways from God. Jesus found us, paid the bill for our sins, gave us forgiveness and made us a part of His family.
Posted on May 29th, 2011 by Max Smith
Filed under: Devotion