Running Home - for Love’s Sake
Written by: Janise Anderson
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For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever.
- Philemon 1:15 (NKJV)
When I was a little kid, the idea of running away always seemed exciting and adventuresome.
Even though I had a great family and an amazing childhood, my little self was tempted by the idea of slipping out the front door and stepping out alone into the great big world. I’m not sure where my 5-year-old self planned on going, or how on earth I planned on surviving!
Sometimes my adult self is still tempted to turn and run from the never-ending to-do lists and the inevitable struggle of living day to day. Have you ever wanted to run away? Maybe from a bad job, a rough day, or a trial? Have you ever run away from God? Have you ever wanted to?
In Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul appeals to Philemon for a runaway slave. Paul writes, “Yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you--being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ--I appeal to you for my son Onesimus” (Philemon 1:9-10a, NKJV).
Paul, who is already stuck in prison, refers to Onesimus as his son because he led Onesimus to Christ. After accepting Christ, Onesimus had taken care of Paul and helped him, but now Paul was sending Onesimus home.
How would Onesimus have felt as he carried that letter to his old master? Would he have felt tempted to run as he got closer to the familiar streets where he once lived? Would people have stepped out of their houses and stared at the runaway slave who was slowly making his way home?
I wonder if Onesimus would have had the courage to go back without the letter. Paul’s letter was his redemption--it proved how Onesimus had changed and it showed how Paul, a respected and beloved friend of Philemon, looked out for Onesimus. He even refers to him as “my own heart” and begs Philemon to treat him kindly and accept him as one of them.
In verse 15 and 16, Paul says, “For perhaps he [Onesimus] departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave--a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord” (NKJV).
These verses paint a beautiful picture of change and renewed hope. Onesimus is not returning as a slave but as a friend and brother in Christ. Yes, he ran, but now he is choosing to honor Paul and go back home.
Even if we have already run away from responsibility or from the people who love us, we can still walk back home. We, through the Holy Spirit in us, can completely change our lives and rewrite our stories. As long as we are willing, God will renew our hope and give us the courage to return to what is right.
1. Is there anything that you want to run away from?
2. What steps can you begin taking to run closer to God and obey His commands?
God, help us to know what to do when we feel like running. Give us the wisdom to know if we should stay and go. Give us the courage to do the right thing even when we are scared to. Thank You for always walking beside us through life and for renewing our hope. Amen.
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