You may not realize it but slavery has existed for thousands of years. It did not originate in British Colonies such as America. Although slavery has ended in our country the effects and wounds from years of racial separation and degradation are still felt today. What is the answer to healing the racial divide in our country? Is it time? Is it individual effort to change stereotypes? Is it changing the political system? While those things might help they don't address the heart. Just as it seems we are making progress in one racial divide, a new form of racism emerges with a new group of people in almost every generation. What is the true answer to permanent change? Jesus. Jesus and the good news of his Gospel is the true answer to every problem in our world. What can change the hearts of people in our culture to the point that they are emptied of hatred and filled with love for someone different than them? Jesus.
The book of Philemon is one of the least studied and shortest books of the New Testament but contains a powerful story. It is a letter from the Apostle Paul to a slave owner named Philemon. The letter gives us a behind the scenes peak into the story of a runaway slave named Onesimus. We learn that Onesimus has come to faith in Jesus and forms a relationship with the Apostle Paul. In the letter Paul does something radical. He tells Philemon that he is going to send his former slave Onesimus back to him! I encourage you to read the whole book...it is only 25 verses long. However, I thought it might be helpful to share my S.O.A.P. from this morning on verses 15-16 with you. S.O.A.P. stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.
SCRIPTURE: "Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good - no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother." - Philemon vs 15-16
OBSERVATION: The Gospel is the most powerful force for change in the world! Only the Gospel of Jesus can turns slaves and masters into brothers in Christ! The Gospel breaks down all barriers; race, language, culture, gender, economic status and make us one people in Christ Jesus.
APPLICATION: Does my life reflect this reality? Or do I only associate with White English Speaking Middle Class Southern People? I want to be an example of Gospel Unity in my life and in our church in such a way that amazes our world and points them to Jesus!
PRAYER: Father, help me overcome barriers in my own life through Christ so that I may be an example of the power of the Gospel. In Jesus name, amen.