Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I was having a discussion today with someone about Philemon.  My thoughts:

One quote from Philemon started my mind wandering to a metaphor  “…I would rather appeal to you on the basis of love.”

A metaphor (that has holes, I know):  I see an unintentional parallel between Paul’s relationship to Philemon and God’s relationship with us. Paul clearly believed he could have commanded Philemon to “do his duty,” but chose instead to appeal to him on the basis of love. God appeals to us on the basis of love. He could have created us without free-will – obedient. It is our free will that allows us to sin. Why set up the universe that way? Because he would appeal to us on the basis of love.

Paul is asking Philemon to care for the least of these, as we are called by God to do. We are called to do so out of love. We are called to love our neighbor, not care for him out of duty, but out of love.

Love makes the difference. Love is the point. Love would be transformational, for Onesimus, for Philemon, and for us. That’s what Emmaus is about – we are called to love the person we do not know, and when we do, the other person is transformed, but so are we. Perhaps Paul is writing to free Onesimus, but also to free Philemon.

(Thanks to JtM for the conversation and the start to these thoughts)

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