This little letter is a demonstration of the gospel in action.
Eugene Peterson introduces Philemon as follows:
“Every movement we make in response to God has a ripple effect, touching family, neighbors, friends, community. Belief in God alters our language. Love of God affects daily relationships. Hope in God enters into our work. None of these movements and responses, beliefs and prayers, gestures and searches can be confined to the soul. They spill out and make history. If they don’t, they are under suspicion of being fantasies at best, hypocrisies at worst…Philemon and Onesimus, the slave owner and slave,.. had no idea that believing in Jesus would involve them in radical social change.”
Paul in writing this letter is showing us what shape love takes in reality, and consequently, what a ministry of reconciliation means in the ordinariness and messiness of life and relationships. It is radical! It is revolutionary! It is not a theory, a technique, but a life journey. Paul takes a cross-shaped stance and sees the issue at hand as one of love, specifically as renouncing rights and oriented in love towards others. Recovering this ministry is so important to Paul, it is the mission of the church as it is at the heart of the Gospel.
Come along and join the journey as we consider how the Gospel that reconciles and this ministry transforms everything about how we are the church !