Partners in Christ

The Bible speaks of us in many contexts, children of God to servants of the Lord.  The duty of being a Christian covers every aspect of life.  We have a partnership one with another.  It’s appealing.  As a young Christian it was helpful to me.

Philemon 1:14 But without thy mind would I do nothing; that thy benefit should not be as it were of necessity, but willingly.15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever;16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?17 If thou count me therefore a partner, receive him as myself.18 If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account;19 I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides.20 Yea, brother, let me have joy of thee in the Lord: refresh my bowels in the Lord.

Sometimes we just go through the little books of the Bible and get the gist of them.  The 25 verses of Philemon give us instructions found in other books but not in this context.  Paul wrote a personal letter to Philemon.  He had accepted Jesus as Savior and become very active in serving the Lord.  He was a landowner and started a church in his house.  He gave of his possessions and was involved in the work of the Lord on a local level.

This is a world-wide work.  We’re part of it just as much as Christians in India, China, Japan, Russia, and the Middle East.  There are unspeakable atrocities against Christians in many countries.  We need to pray for them.  Being a child of God doesn’t mean you come from certain places.  Christianity doesn’t belong to a certain nationality.  If we’re saved we belong to the kingdom of God.  Customs from other countries are different, but if they have been born again they are our brothers and sisters.  Many of them have hardships that we don’t in America.  We think our little aches and pains are suffering while our brothers and sisters across the waters live in huts with dirt floors.  We’re blessed, yet we complain and carry on.  We think we do so much yet we don’t think of others.

They are our partners.  They are on equal ground.  In business, partners share responsibilities and profits.  Paul told Philemon that the two of them were partners with Onesemus.  This was difficult for Philemon because Onesemus was his slave.  He had gotten saved.  Paul said he was an apostle but Onesemus was on equal ground with him in the Lord.  If he did his best as an apostle and Onesemus did his best in what God wanted, it would be the same.  Christianity can’t be looked at in a secular way.  We can’t bring class or a caste system into the church.  In some countries people can’t marry someone from another class.  All nations have a class system.  The more money you have, the more preeminence and higher class you are.  Then there is an upper and lower class in the upper class, middle class and lower class.  We even class Christians as top of the line or middle of the line.  We stick with our group and ignore other groups.  I see it in uptown churches as well as the rural churches.  God doesn’t want this.  There are no big I’s and little you’s.  We all put our britches on the same way.  Nobody is higher or lower.  If a man thinks himself something, he is nothing.  That’s what the Bible says.  We sin against God when we think that way.

We were all lost until Jesus saved us.  We are born again children of God.  We can please God and know our position or we can snub up and get mad and play the class game.  Jesus didn’t start a social club.  It’s not a place to gather socially.  A true Christian humbles himself in the sight of the Lord.  We’re spoiled and use the world’s carnal standards to organize and function in the church.  All for one and one for all means we are all on equal ground.  That’s the only way God will bless.  We need a right attitude toward God, toward self, and toward others.

Philemon had a problem with Onesemus as his servant.  He wasn’t in a relationship with him.  It was servant and boss.  There is no boss in the church except God Almighty.  If God doesn’t rule us we might as well knock our heads against the wall.  We need to leave worldly thinking out of the church.  We’re better and higher than we used to be.  We came from the brink of hell to partakers of the heavenly light.  Paul was happy when others stood fast with the Lord.  Status didn’t matter.  The same Bible is the same in any language.  We are partners together.  No one is lower or higher.  I want to be a help to everybody.  If we only speak to one group of people God isn’t pleased.  We need to provide a place where people can come and be saved and find help.  We’re not to be boasting of ourselves.  Are we really treating everybody like somebody?  It’s time to be partners or call it quits.  God endorses discipleship not socializing.

Take up the cross and follow the Lord.  Deny self.  Jesus is first.  Others are second.  Self is last.  Follow God as partners in him.  The only one better sits on the throne in heaven.  Every lost person is a potential partner in the kingdom of God.  Cowboys needed “pardners” in the old west.  It was a desert out there.  It’s a desert here.  We need “pardners” and we all need to act as God’s children.  The future of our church is in our house.  We must receive the Paul’s, the Philemon’s and the Onesemus’ as partners.

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