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Paul wrote this personal letter to Philemon in Colossae, asking him to welcome back the runaway slave Onesimus, who had since become a Christian and helped Paul in ministry. Philemon, probably a wealthy Gentile from Asia Minor, was very different from Paul, a learned, devout Jew whose life was transformed by Jesus Christ. Philemon could have punished Onesimus, sold him, or worse, had him executed. Yet Paul explains that the grace of Christ compels us to live out reconciliation. If we are forgiven, redeemed, and restored through Christ, should we not forgive, redeem, and restore one another? Even in the church there can be a subtle, negative attitude towards “outsiders”. This message explains how God prepares our hearts to live in new community.
Each of us needs to apply the gospel individually, in order to live out redemptive community.