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Several weeks ago I posted my Sunday sermon here. As I said then, I am not a real fan of posting my sermons on-line. This is for several reasons. Those sermons are written for a specific congregation, in their specific time. In addition, there are many other preachers out there who can write much better sermons than I.

Having said that, I thought I might make some comments about our adult Sunday School lesson for this morning.

We have been working our way through some of the shorter, less studied epistles. Essentially we began with Ephesians and worked forward. Today we begin have our first lesson from Paul’s epistle to Philemon. This letter is the shortest book in the Bible, containing one chapter with 25 verses. The letter appears to have been written by Paul as an appeal to Philemon, a Colossian Christian and the owner of a slave named Onesimus who had run away, and found his way to Rome and Paul.

Paul has sent Onesimus back to Philemon, supposedly with this letter.

When reading Paul’s letter to Philemon, it is important to remember that in the Roman world, slaves were above all else, the property of their owner. Runaway slaves(when caught) would be subject to any discipline their owners might choose to inflict, up to and including death.

On his authority as an Apostle, Paul could have essentially instructed Philemon to go easy on hos runaway slave, but instead chose to appeal to him in love, as a brother Christian. This is a powerful example for us to follow, especially in today’s world.

We live in an environment in which we have multiple church bodies who call themselves Christian, and who often spend energy telling the other just how wrong they are. In our self-righteous human natures, we also(especially in political matters) have this disturbing tendency to frame our opponents as evil incarnate. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in standing proudly for you beliefs, as children of God, it is important that we do so in love, recognizing that there will be disagreement.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we compromise our beliefs. I am suggesting that in standing for our beliefs, we remember that our opponents are also created by God in his image, and treat them accordingly. Just as Paul encouraged Philemon to treat Onesimus in love.


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