Summary: The story of Philemon and Onesimus, presented as an imaginative story, shows how God called Paul to become involved as a mediator, Philemon to become involved in real church work, and Onesimus to become involved in overcoming his background to become usef
The new day greeted his eyes early. He stretched and shook off the sleep, but then, remembering why he had wanted to get up at the crack of dawn, Philemon jumped out of bed and began his day’s duties.
His first task was to open his window and turn his gaze toward the rising sun, offering his prayers to the God of his salvation. He had been a believer just about two years now, and what a difference it had made! What an incredible change had been brought about in his life since that day that the traveling preacher, Paul, had stopped by Colossae and had spoken of Jesus Christ! So many changes, so much growth! Philemon could scarcely list it all.
Why, his marriage had been changed, for one thing. His wife, Apphia, just seemed more loving, more cheerful. And she said that he too was a far more considerate husband. Why, in the old days, he had exercised his right as a citizen of the Roman empire, and he had told her what to do, day in and day out. Philemon did not suppose he would ever have done so, but the law said that if she were to become disobedient, he could put her to death. But now? The farthest thing from his mind. Apphia! He looked back from his prayer window and saw her still slumbering, and felt such love for her. Together they had become believers; together they had joined the church in Colossae, and together, when the group grew too large for the modest home in which it had bean meeting, they invited the church to meet in their own spacious home. What a joy to have such a partner in the things of the Lord!
Philemon turned to pray again. He thanked the Lord for Apphia, and for Archippus. What a fine young man his son was turning into! Archippus had received the Lord not long after Philemon and Apphia, and he made his parents so very proud, because he had gone out into the city and had won others to Christ. He had gone among his young friends, out in the taverns and the sports arenas, and had witnessed to his faith. Archippus was really on the march for the Lord, and Philemon gave thanks!
Next this one of Colossae’s leading merchants turned his prayer toward this day and all that would happen. This day, as every Lord’s Day, the Christians would be gathering at his home to sing songs and to pray, to hear someone recite for them some of the teachings of Jesus. And they would end the day with the remembrance supper, breaking the bread and passing the cup, as they did every Lord’s Day, to remember Jesus until He comes again. For they never knew, you see, whether that great moment might happen before they should gather again! It might be today, tomorrow, next week, but they would be ready! Praise His name!
The worship which would be held in Philemon’s house was always wonderful, but today was especially important. Today was without precedent. Today there would be a message to the church, sent by the great missionary Paul. What an honor for our little church to have a special letter sent from Paul! How could he have taken time for us? Why, there are so many churches springing up all over the Empire. And he is way off in Rome, under house arrest, awaiting trial. Surely he needs time to prepare his case. Surely he is using his energies to strengthen the church in Rome. How could he pay attention to us, here in Colossae?
But they had heard several weeks ago that Tychicus, one of their own, and a fellow traveler with Paul, was coming to see them, and that he was carrying a letter, just for them. Only yesterday one of the believers, who had been down the Lycus River Valley on business, had come back and had reported that Tychicus and someone else were in Laodicea, just a few miles away. They were resting there and were expected in Colossae this very Lord’s Day.
Philemon wondered for a moment who was accompanying Tychicus. Somehow no one had given him the name of the other visitor. Too bad! He would surely want to introduce him properly to the church! Oh, well, not to worry. There would be time to meet the stranger.
Philemon lingered a little longer at his prayer window. It seemed as though there was something else for which he wanted to pray. What was it? Something, someone, what was it that he had thought the Spirit was calling him to pray about?
Oh, well, again, not to worry. If it is important, it will come back to mind. And besides, there is so much to do today to get ready for worship. We’ve got to get the atrium cleared; we have to set up some chairs. We need to be sure there is plenty of room; should be a good crowd today.