17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me.
At this point Paul is living out the message of the Cross:
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:18-21
In Paul’s own conversion journey, he went from persecuting believers to becoming one. When he first arrived in Jerusalem to join the disciples, they were afraid of him, not believing he had really changed. It was Barnabas who intervened and spoke on his behalf, confirming his new life in Christ (Acts 9:26,27). After that Barnabas continued this relationship as a mentor to Paul.
Similarly Paul’s letter to Philemon is him vouching for Onesimus and his faith in Christ, like Barnabas did with Paul. Paul knew that Onesimus had to return to Philemon, and to make things right was to offer restitution. As difficult as it was, Onesimus was to go back to his old life, but as a new person. Onesimus still had to face the consequences of his past that needed to be resolved, but he did not have to do it alone, He now had God by His side.
Questions to ponder:
- Are there unresolved things in your past that need restoration/resolution? Don’t keep on running away but face it with God by your side.
- Have you ever been an advocate to someone’s walk with Jesus? Someone that needed that extra push to do the right thing and in need of encouragement to continue to grow in Christ? Pray that God will highlight people you can come alongside and live out the message of the Cross with.
Community. It’s easy for us to feel isolated, effectively quarantined. Pray that people will still be able to reach out and support one another and feel supported.