When Things Go Bad

Alex Enabnit – Research Editor

This weekend we concluded our two-week series in Philemon about “Strained Relationships.”

In the message, Cal dove into the heart of the letter to Philemon. Last week we looked at the first seven verses of the letter, but from verses eight and on, Paul gets into the nitty-gritty.

While the background of the letter isn’t completely certain, here is one interpretation of what happened: Onesimus (a slave) ran away from his owner Philemon (a leader in the church in Colossae, converted by Paul). Onesimus ran to Rome and somehow met Paul! Paul most likely influenced Onesiumus to become a Christian and in the process discovered that Onesimus had run away from Paul’s friend, Philemon. So Paul is in the middle of this drama and decides to write a letter to Philemon.

In this letter, Paul asks Philemon for a few things. First, he vouches for Onesimus and asks Philemon to forgive his slave for running away. His second request is that Philemon actually count Onesimus as a brother – an equal! And the third request is for Philemon to actually set Onesimus free. On their own, these look like big asks, but reading the letter, it is so evident that Paul actually cares for and loves both Philemon and Onesimus, and just wants what’s best for both of them. Although Paul could have simply ordered Philemon to obey his requests because of his authority and standing in the church, Paul appeals to Philemon on the basis of love. His motivation was pure and that really comes across in this letter.

So what does that mean for us? We need to have the courage to have the conversation. Rather than just let things slide when something is wrong, we should care enough to show up for our friend or brother/sister in Christ. This shouldn’t be done with the wrong motives, of course – great friends call one another UP, not OUT! If we approach these conversations looking down our noses at others (calling them OUT), that’s when things will go sour. But If we’re approaching one another in love and have their best interests at heart (calling them UP), the conversation will go well.

Did anyone come to mind while you were reading that? Have the courage – have the conversation. Call them up!

Verses and quotes from the message:

Philemon 8-25; Matthew 5:16; Titus 2:7-8; Colossians 4:7-9; Proverbs 9:9; Proverbs 17:10; Proverbs 18:15

“What this epistle does is to bring us into an atmosphere in which the institution could only wilt and die.” FF Bruce

Big Idea

Set List

Only King Forever – Elevation Worship
Great I Am – Jared Anderson
Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) – Hillsong Music

About The Author
- I am the programming coordinator at Central Christian Church AZ. I also moderate the Central Teaching Blog. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!