This is some of my edited content from my Sunday, April 5th message at Crossroads.
Part I of “PUTTING YOUR FAITH INTO ACTION!”
Letter to Philemon
-short letter, only 25 verses, very personal and intimate between Paul and Philemon, wrote it from a prison in Rome, and sent it with Onesimus (wrote it for all of us though, much to learn and apply).
-Onesimus was a slave who had wronged his master, Philemon, by stealing from him and then escaping. (Slaves were executed for less offenses than his, and according to Roman law death was his punishment.) After escaping, Onesimus went to Rome, met Christ, through the ministry of Paul. Paul sends him back with this letter/postcard. Paul has really befriended Onesimus, becoming his spiritual mentor and advocate. Paul appeals to Philemon, also a Christian, for leniency based on love and grace. 10-14While here in jail, I've fathered a child, so to speak. And here he is, hand-carrying this letter—Onesimus! He was useless to you before; now he's useful to both of us. I'm sending him back to you, but it feels like I'm cutting off my right arm in doing so. (The Message)
AND I AM PRAYING THAT YOU WILL PUT INTO ACTION THE GENEROSITY THAT COMES FROM YOUR FAITH
-Paul’s request of Philemon to show grace to Onesimus, ‘put into action’...
A CALL/CHALLENGE TO:
-move from spectator to player, observer to participant, consumer to owner and volunteer
-generosity (in every way: with resources of money and time, also with words and sharing about Christ)
-NIV (more literal) says: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (this shows a Cause & Effect relationship)
-we do healthy things to become healthy Christians, don’t wait until you are healthy to do healthy things, it’ll never happen (ie, don’t wait to be physically fit before you start exercising, don’t wait to lose weight before you start a diet)
-maybe it’s time for a public demonstration of faith – a public prayer, ‘confess with your mouth’, give your testimony (important to Sunday morning experience) – publicly demonstrate faith for other’s sake
-what is God calling you to ‘put into action’? how he is asking you right now, today, to match your talk with your walk?
AS YOU UNDERSTAND AND EXPERIENCE ALL THE GOOD THINGS WE HAVE IN CHRIST. -PHILEMON 1:6
-it’s a process/journey/adventure/lifetime of understanding and experiencing life with Christ
-remember Samuel’s message on the Prodigal Son from the perspective of the older son? “All I have is already yours.”
-we have so much ‘in Christ’: life, hope, forgiveness, joy, peace, identity ‘in Christ’, eternal life
-we have much to celebrate and to share this season – the empty tomb
-(this passage is Paul’s prayer for Philemon) It can be our prayer for our church. Pray that we will understand, as we ‘put into action’ and ‘actively share our faith’ all the good things we have in Christ!