Berlin Immanuel Church gathered on Sunday, November 12, wrapping up the series on relationships through the book of Philemon with the main passage in verses 20-25. We have seen that the story of Onesimus is also our story – no longer runaway slaves, we are now children of God through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther puts it this way: “As Christ does for us, with God the Father, so does Paul with Philemon for Onesimus. We are all God’s Onesimi.”
Verses 20-21 show us how people of gospel should view others – with the greatest hope and faith. Paul wishes to receive joy and be refreshed in Christ through Philemon even beyond his expectations. His confidence is in Christ who works in those who are saved despite their weaknesses. Seeing God work out his grace through sinners is both humbling and hopeful, and allows us to see others as ‘better than a slave’, and have faith that God will keep working out the best through us. People of gospel have faith not only towards God, but also towards others, having not the eyes that see a slave only with all his shortcomings, but eyes that see a brother in whom Christ dwells and works.
Lastly, through verses 22-24, we see that gospel is a message of life, not only a message of word. It’s not enough for Paul to send a message of grace, he must meet Philemon in person and live the gospel together with him. The message of gospel is to be lived out – when the message becomes our life and our life the message, we witness a great demonstration of God’s love, just as it was in the life of Jesus. We are not just members of church for each other, we are fellow-workers, we all contribute and make the church what it is and what the service is like. With our hearts and our attitudes we make the church together, and every moment and every word becomes significant and an opportunity to show that we indeed are Christ’s disciples by loving one another.