It's February 26; Good Morning Union

“Charge it to me.”            Philemon 18

One of the smallest of the letters in the Bible, it’s a story about a runaway slave named Onesimus and his owner, Mr. Philemon. It seems like a challenging book because it appears to be endorsing slavery in the New Testament and I don’t like that very much. Ellen White was very helpful for me in understanding this letter. Two quotes from the book Acts of the Apostles—

“Slaveholding was an established institution throughout the Roman Empire, and both masters and slaves were found in most of the churches for which Paul labored…. It was not the apostle’s work to overturn arbitrarily or suddenly the established order of society. To attempt this would be to prevent the success of the gospel. But he taught principles which struck at the very foundation of slavery and which, if carried into effect, would surely undermine the whole system.” (459, 460) I’ve also read in numerous places that slavery in Bible times (except maybe for Joseph and Egypt!) was more like servanthood than the very offensive picture we equate with America in the 1860s and before; a slavery that is repulsive and totally inhumane. But whatever it was, Onesimus had run away from Philemon and Paul was returning him to his “owner.” But the phrase that catches my attention each time I read this story is when Paul says, “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, CHARGE IT TO ME.” And now the other EW quote,

“How fitting an illustration of the love of Christ for the repentant sinner! The servant who has defrauded his master had nothing with which to make restitution. The sinner who has robbed God of years of service has no means of canceling the debt. Jesus interposes between the sinner and God, saying, ‘I will pay the debt.’” (458)

So maybe the story is not as much about slavery as it is undeserved mercy and kindness; Philemon’s and God’s.

Have a great day sensing God’s totally undeserved payment for your and my debts,

Pastor Rich

Quote for the day: “I think I have finally discovered what’s wrong with my brain: on the left side, there’s nothing right, and on the right side, there’s nothing left.”

PS                Hour of Power, prayer meeting, at the church @ 7pm in the Heritage Room. All are welcome.

PPS        Please read the email I sent out last night about “Student in need” and start thinking now how you can help us all help him in this time of need. Money is what we need so let’s see how much we can gather this Friday! Thanks in advance for your kindness and generosity.