Onesimus and Me
Greetings and heart peace by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through His life that works in us all washing us white as snow and presenting us to the Father spotless and without blame. To God be the glory, now and forever, amen.
I woke up early this morning before daylight, and was thinking of Onesimus, the runaway slave who is the centerpiece of Pauls letter to Philemon. Philemon
you know, in the little book just before Hebrews. Honest, its there, take a look.
Anyway, I like the name Onesimus because it means profitable. It is my desire that in some small way, I may be found profitable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ Who paid my all to His own account.
Philemon was a good man, a believer and highly praised by Paul for his walk with the Lord. This being true, we would be hard pressed to imagine a valid reason for the rebellion and abandonment of Onesimus to leave the house of Philemon, as mentioned in vs 11,12.
Paul writes this letter from prison where he says that Onesimus was a fellow laborer with him there. So it can be assumed that Onesimus was also in prison, although we know not what for, (Sin will take you farther than you intended to go.) But given the understanding that he had a streak of rebellion within him, it is not difficult to believe that he was in fact a fellow prisoner with Paul. Paul said that Onesimus was his very son, begotten while in bonds (vs 10). From that we can assume that Onesimus was saved through the prison ministry of Paul and now a servant with Paul.
Onesimus must have been freed from prison because Paul tells Philemon that he is sending him back to him. Paul says that it is like sending his very heart back to Philemon. So it is clear that love is the motivation behind this situation. Love for Philemon, and love for Onesimus.
The problem lies in Onesimus rebellion. When with Philemon as a slave, he was not at all profitable. Philemon might well have breathed a sigh of relief at the departure of Onesimus, in that unruly slaves can be more trouble than they are worth. But Onesimus has also accrued some indebtedness.
Paul appeals to his own personal relationship with Philemon as a brother in Christ and a partner in ministry for the sake of Onesimus. Furthermore, any indebtedness of Onesimus toward Philemon, Paul pleads that it be put on his own account with a promise to pay all in full.
Finally, it is Pauls desire that Philemon consider and receive Onesimus willingly as a co-laborer, not by compulsion due to the friendship between Paul and him.
Of course, in reading this story, we can easily begin to see the parallel of the Gospel abound in its verses. Paul the mediator, the type of Christ; Philemon, the type of the Father; and Onesimus the repentant rebel now transformed into the profitable and useful servant of both Paul and Philemon, a type of ourselves before and after conversion.
I began to think about how Paul had sent word to Philemon to put on his own personal account whatever Onesimus owed
..with virtually no limits or definition. Here my mind began to wander. I began to think about things without limit.
I began to think about life without financial limits for example. What would it be like to be the son of the richest man in earthly wealth today? Perhaps that may be Bill Gates. Last I heard he was worth over one hundred billion dollars.
Its difficult for us to imagine how much that is. It takes a little over 11 days for a million seconds to go by. It takes over 11 years for a billion seconds to go by. So we can at least visualize some type of contrast or perspective. One billion dollars is a pile of change.
What would it be like if Bill called up and said, Come live at my house? Criminal record? No problem, Ill have my attorneys take care of it. Debts? All paid in full.
Upon arrival, we would be handed an ID card and a pocket full of credit cards without limit. Old uncle Bill would tell us we could buy anything we wanted, as much of it as we wanted with the exception of buying a corporation. We could not work at any kind of job, but were absolutely free to go where we chose, any way we chose, wear what we wanted and eat anyplace at anytime we chose to do so. Bill may ask us to run an errand now and then, but not often enough to interrupt our lavish lifestyle. Can you imagine? Oh, and if we got any traffic tickets, those would be covered also and our record expunged.
Breakfast in Paris? Just pick up the phone and let your personal secretary know your desire. They would have the limo waiting at the front door to take you to the airport for your private jet. Swish, off you go. No limits. What ever the cost, its covered in full. What kind of car would you like to drive today? No, problem, just let someone know and it will be arranged for you. No cost limit. Shopping on Rodeo drive in Beverly Hills? Terrific, just say so, and off you go. Spend whatever you like on whatever you want.
Well, your mind should not be any more difficult than mine to entertain itself with such a fantasy. The possibilities are endless because there are no financial restraints. Health and death would be the only limiting factors. Wow.
Ok, ok, back to reality and our story of Onesimus. Gods Amazing Grace is without measure or limit. So is His mercy toward us. His only motivation is love. If you take one grain of sand and drop it into the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean (over 7 miles deep, I think), so would our sins and offenses be swallowed up in His mercy and grace. His mercy and grace are ours for the asking because Jesus has put His own shed blood upon us to cover our offenses. Any indebtedness to our God is paid in full, even more, forever forgotten. All that God has, He shares with His Son Jesus. We have been invited to become joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Therefore all things belong to us as well.
Who would not question the sanity of turning down such an invitation to become a member of the family of God? Yet it happens all the time by millions upon millions of people.
See, to live with Bill Gates, Id have to leave my own house. The same is true with Gods family. To live in His family, I must forsake my own. Given the understanding of what Im leaving behind and what I am entering into, that is not a difficult choice to make. Total forgiveness and total inheritance. Leave my home for His? Im on my way, Lord.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the presence of things not seen. At first we may not see any changes of scenery with the natural eye. But then things will begin to happen that can only be explained by our relationship with the limitless wealth of God.
For example, when I was called to do missions work in Jamaica, I had to first go there and preach and meet the people I would serve as interim church pastor. Behind me, I had left a beautiful home in California with an in-ground swimming pool. Its the only house I ever had with an in-ground pool. So as our plane approaches Montego Bay, Im lamenting about this house and pool. I moved there in early fall and had not yet gotten to swim in it.
The runway at Montego Bay juts out into the Caribbean. Im looking out over the Caribbean drinking in its grandeur, gazing upon every color of turquoise imaginable and lamenting over the tiny swimming pool back home. Then the Holy Spirit asks, How do you like your new swimming pool? Large tears began streaming down my cheeks. He said, if only you will leave behind what you have, I will share with you all that I have, no limits. Oh glory to God. My eyes began to see beyond the veil of faith into the limitless majesty and supply of our God. Alleluia!!!
My sins and sinfulness? Forgiven, forgotten, and covered in RED. All past failures? Covered! All indebtedness? Covered! All shame? Covered. All sin? Covered. All
..forgiven and forgotten, placed onto Jesus account. Covered in full. Oh bless His Holy name. Need a wedding garment? Just let Jesus know. Is there a mountain in your way? Just tell Jesus. Forces of darkness bothering you? Let Jesus know, He will take care of it for you. Covered. Alleluia. Holy, blameless, righteous, pure
Worshipping our God,