Focal passage: Philemon 8-21
Have you ever experienced a disagreement with someone? Not like a small misunderstanding, but a disagreement that puts a relationship in jeopardy. Maybe you lost your temper. Maybe a friend said some really hurtful things behind your back. Perhaps a parent was absent or uninvolved. Maybe you hurt someone so deeply that you’re unsure if things will ever be the same.
We’ve all been there to some extent. Our temptation will be to turn away from the other person, ruminating on our hurt. Yet, the gospel offers us another way. When at odds with another person, there is a great truth for the Christian to consider. We do not have the option not to seek reconciliation. God went to greath lengths in order to bring us back to Himself. We cannot look the other way when it comes to reconciliation.
Paul addresses the division between Philemon and Onesimus by urging Philemon (the one who had been wronged) to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ. Can you imagine how Philemon must have felt? But Paul reminds him of the grace he has received from Christ through Paul’s ministry. In reconciling us to God, Jesus models for us how we should respond when we are wronged. When there is tension or a split in a relationship, as much as it depends on us, we should seek restoration. There is no mention of the ease of this process. That’s because it’s not easy at all. After all, when Jesus reconciled us to God, it cost Him his life.
Sometimes, restoration might not always be possible, especially in cases that involve abuse or a situation that would put you or the other person in danger. Yet, restoration is something we seek for the sake of the gospel. It shows the watching world what it means to belong to Jesus and ultimately displays our reconciliation to God the Father.