Â [Remember: Runaway Pursuit plusÂ encouragement (even thru suffering) =transformed lives.]
Today finds me in a prison of sorts… unlike the Apostle Paul, mine are not physical chains, but chains of my uncooperative physical body. Like Paul, I used the time 0f solitude to focus on the things of God. Â Listening to Moody Bible Institute Radio, I heard a Christian teacher talking about Onesimus.. Â I’d like to learn more about the lives and bibliography of Ignatius and Onesimus.Â Â I became inspired to write this.
Ignatius of Antioch was an early church leader who wrote letters of encouragement to different churches even while being escorted to be martyred in the Roman Colosseum by lions.
The Biblical “postcard”of Philemon (an epistle written by the apostle Paul that is a part of the canon of Scripture) tells about a man named Onesimus. We are told that Onesimus was a runaway slave of a Christian named Philemon who Paul also formerly saw come to faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul took on the plight of Onesimus as one would a son. Paul told him that he needed to return to the master he’d wronged (Philemon). However, in a letter that Onesimus carried with him, Paul pleaded for the runaways debts and punishment to be accounted to Paul himself. He offered to take the wrong upon himself for the sake of another! Does that theme sound familiar?
In obedience, the runaway slave stepped out in faith and repented. He returned to the master he’d wronged and not only was granted grace-filled forgiveness, but, as a result, Onesimus became better equipped to live out that grace. According to history, Onesimus… this disobedient runaway slave… went on to become a bishop at Ephesus! How awesome is that?
EVERY Christian was once a runaway. The Bible teaches that we ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We ALL like sheep have gone astray and turned to our own way.
Yet, it was when the shining light of God’s spirit and truth pierces our sinful heart that we are freed from sin’s hold on us. We are delivered by the saving work of Jesus Christ when He took the penalty for our sins. He did so “once and for all”! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
If God so greatly desired a right relationship with me that He sent His only son to die, what will I sacrifice for right relationships and for eternal purposes?
This prayer that I pray today is not only for myself, but for all of my siblings in God’s family. >>
I pray that I never live so long in the family of God, that I have forgotten having once been outside of it. May I always remember that my own unpardonable sins have been forever forgiven. May I actively pursue the mission of the Gospel gift … that grace and forgiveness are still the means for welcoming others into God’s family.
God please empower us with your Spirit and use us to reach the runaways. Help us to pursue them with the love that they need– the Love that is You!
All for Your Glory, Amen.
May our runaway pursuit (passion for the Gospel) drive us to pursue the runaway!