Have you ever run away?
Has someone close to you run away from you?
I think almost everyone has had a moment or several moments when they’ve wanted to run from the situation in which they find themselves.
Some follow through . . . some don’t.
In the last of Paul’s letters collected in Scripture, Paul reminds everyone then and now that the Gospel of Jesus has the power to heal what’s broken.
In this letter to Philemon, a wealthy member of the church in Colosse, Paul asks him to forgive Onesimus . . . a slave, who had both stolen and run away from Philemon.
I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.Philemon v. 4–6, 8–9a, 15–16
I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do. But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you.
It seems you lost Onesimus for a little while so that you could have him back forever. He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.
This is a close-up and personal look at forgiveness.
Paul had seen the power of God’s love and the truth about Jesus change Onesimus’ life. In a culture where rigid lines were drawn along lines that divided . . . men and women, slave and free, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, religious and non-religious. Everyone had their place and knew it.
But Jesus came to tear down the walls that divide.
Paul wrote to the Galatians:
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:28
So, Onesimus humbled himself and carried this letter back to his master, Philemon. He repented. And Philemon had the ability with God’s help, to tear down the dividing wall of the past.
We are never told how Philemon responded . . . but we can decide our own ending. You and I are forgiven runaways. Through Jesus, the barriers that divide us from God and from each other are torn down. We can humbly approach the throne of grace in repentance and receive merciful forgiveness every single time. AND we can receive everything we need to forgive one another.
That is the power of the grace, mercy, and love of God in Christ Jesus . . . the power that tears down walls.
A Prayer for God’s Forgiveness and Love to Tear Down Walls
Father, You are so very gracious and good. How can I begin to thank you for Your unfailing love and generous forgiveness? I am so undeserving. I can be prideful and stubborn, judgmental and foolish. I can be quick to accept cultural divisions and slow to forgive. I am so very sorry. Please forgive me.
Jesus came to tear down the walls of sin that separated us from You and divide our relationships here. He gave up everything for us . . . including laying down His life that we might be one with You and with each other. Please help me remember all that I have received. Help me freely give. Help me remember Your undeserved forgiveness. Help me forgive.
Please help me love as You love. Help me see everyone as someone who is deeply loved and treasured by You. Help me tear down the walls that divide. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
When you and I are tempted to run away or when we are hurt by someone who ran away with a piece of our hearts . . . we can follow the example of Onesimus and run to Jesus. He died to tear down the walls that divide us from God and from each other. He came to heal our relationships.
On today’s note write:
Jesus is the One who tears down walls and heals relationships. Praise God for His love and forgiveness.
May God bless you today and give you everything you need to live forgiven and forgiving.
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