Inevitably, someone put a cynical spin on it—if it doesn't come back, hunt it down and kill it. The issue centers around people and possessiveness.
Slavery is a form of possession. It comes in different forms and levels, from bondage to indebted servitude. Slavery is slavery, in whatever form it is. It reduces a person to an object. It is inhumane.
Slavery has existed for thousands of years, and is found in the Bible. Some people question why the Bible doesn't condemn slavery, but seems to accept it.
The small personal epistle of Philemon refutes that idea, as does the book of Exodus.
Useful and valuable
Many, if not most, of the activists for the abolition of slavery were people of faith, who believed in God as a creator of all humanity. It is still the case. This epistle gives some insight to this.
For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Philemon 15-16 (NKJV)
Paul appeals to a man of status in Philemon, who was a believer. A church met in his home that was the fruit of Paul's ministry in the ancient city of Ephesus.
[bctt tweet="Many, if not most, of the activists for the abolition of slavery were people of faith" username="tkbeyond"]
Paul makes the case that Onesimus, whose name means useful, is now much more valuable than a slave. Now Onesimus is a man and a brother in the faith because of the work of God's grace in his life.
A change of status
Although Onesimus had stolen from his master (Philemon) and run away, now he was a changed person. He was forgiven and redeemed by God, and Paul had found him to be useful as a fellow-servant in God's kingdom.
In other words, Onesimus gained a new usefulness by becoming a fellow believer.
Since Paul was the spiritual mentor of Philemon, he appeals to his brother in the faith to forgive and receive Onesimus, whom Paul raises to the status of his own “child” (verse 10).
[bctt tweet="The epistle of Philemon is a guide to appeal for reconciliation in a godly manner" username="tkbeyond"]
It's interesting how Paul focuses on the person who is redeemed by God from slavery to sin and death, not the right or wrong of slavery.
His reasoning with Philemon is based on the equality all three men have in God's kingdom.
This is a valuable epistle. It serves as a guide to appeal for reconciliation in a godly manner.
It underscores the nature of genuine Christian faith—the power of the cross is more valuable and important than any cause, no matter how noble it is.
[bctt tweet="The power of the cross is more valuable and important than any cause" username="tkbeyond"]
What brings real transforming freedom for anyone caught in slavery? Only God's redeeming grace.
Some questions and an encouragement
Are there people you tend to see as inferior to you?
Is there anyone you hold resentment or unforgiveness towards?
As you reflect on how God's grace has set you free—
Who is someone in your life that you can extend some type of kindness?
- Be intentional and gracious towards those you encounter this week, especially if they have wronged you.
This was a guest post originally posted on Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Daily Devo blog. Here's that link– Redemptive Reconciliation