Yesterday, I posted about “Lincoln, Django, and the Apostle Paul.” In that post I mentioned that in the movies “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained” the issue of slavery was primarily deal with through violence and politics but that the Apostle Paul took a different approach to dealing with this issue in his letter to Philemon. Yesterday, we saw how Paul based his argument in the change in status that occurred when Onesimus, a runaway slave, became a Christian. From that point on, Philemon, his owner, was obligated to treat Onesimus as a brother-in-Christ. Today, I want to show you that Paul goes even further by offering to model the gospel in this situations.
You will notice in Philemon v.17-18 Paul says, “So if you consider me you partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.” That final sentence really intrigues me because essentially what Paul is saying is that he is willing to bear any penalty or pay the price for Onesimus to go free. This is where we can see the gospel in this book. Paul essentially models the gospel by being willing to pay the price for Onesimus to go free.
This is exactly what Christ did for us on the cross. In Romans 3:23-25 the Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” On the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin so that we could go free. Not only does Paul preach this message as our only means of salvation, but in Philemon it becomes the means through which he brings about the reconciliation between these two parties.
As Christians the gospel is to more than just the means by which we are reconciled to God. The gospel is to be the way that we view and understand the world around us. In every area of life, we need to look to see how the gospel can be applied. For more on how to apply the gospel to personal conflict I would recommend Ken Sande’s book “Peacemakers.”