“I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.” Philemon 12-14
This has been an offseason of disaster for college football and some of its biggest programs. Unfortunately as people, we make mistakes. And in college football, we have seen several mistakes made by both adults and kids alike. Skeletons were revealed in several programs. It has gotten me to think about the church and how we must guard against making mistakes that could drive wedges between the body and reflect Christ poorly.
Paul showed us a great example of this when writing to Philemon. Philemon was a leader inside the church at Colossae. He had a slave named Onesimus who ran away and may have even stolen from Philemon. Onesimus fled to Rome where he ran into Paul. They did not know each other, but God brought these two together and Paul led Onesimus to Christ. Philemon 11 tells us that Paul found Onesimus now useful to both Philemon and himself.
Onesimus’ name meant “useful.” Paul was saying that “Useful,” who was useless to Philemon before, now had become useful to both Philemon and Paul. Onesimus had become so useful to Paul, that it was tough for him to send him back to Philemon. But he knew what was right. Philemon had to restore Onesimus as a brother-in-Christ. Had Paul kept this from Philemon and word travelled back to Philemon that Paul had Onesimus with him; this could have easily driven a wedge between Paul and Philemon. It also could have hurt Paul’s testimony in the Colossian church. It could have confused the Colossian church. One little action could have been a big issue to the church. However, by Paul sending Onesimus back, the opportunity to heal could be on full display.
Challenges present themselves to us all the time. Making correct choices, no matter how difficult, are extremely important to bring the body of Christ closer and unified with each other. When we choose to be deceitful to protect a fleshly desire, we open the doors for destruction. And while some programs never get caught, if this off-season is any indication, those days are ending. And as members of the body, we must understand that if we continue in disobedience, we will eventually be caught, and our testimony may be in question. Treat each challenge, no matter how difficult, as a challenge to edify the body of Christ with truthfulness.
By Brendan Handel
For a great ministry handout, order our Training Table To Go by clicking here.