Who is welcome in our church?
Today’s reading is a very short letter from Paul to Philemon to tell him that Onesimus, Philemon’s slave who ran away, has now become a Christian and Paul wants Philemon not only to welcome him back again but also to welcome him not just as a slave but as a brother into the church.
This might have been very difficult for Philemon though Jesus was confident that he would do all he asked and more.
What about us? How ready are we to welcome someone into our church or youth group or any form of fellowship who is ‘not our sort of person’? Maybe someone who is very poor, perhaps homeless, maybe someone who is a little ‘rough’ or poorly spoken, maybe an immigrant, perhaps someone doing community service for a crime they committed or someone we know who did us some wrong in the past. Would we rush over to them and give them a real welcome? Would we forgive them for anything wrong they had done, especially a wrong they had done to us? Would we show them the same unconditional love that Jesus shows us.
Paul tells Philemon to welcome Onesimus as he would welcome Paul himself and that if Onesimus has previously done him wrong then he, Paul, would pay. Have you heard a similar message before? Does not Jesus ask us to welcome all as we would Jesus himself and has not Jesus already paid for all our wrong doing?
Can Jesus be as confident in us as Paul was in Philemon that we will do all he asks and more?
Please help us to fulfil our part in your will to welcome all into our Christian family, your church, your kingdom no matter who they are, what they’re like or what they’ve done – just as you welcomed us.
Is there someone you feel God wants you to invite into your Christian circle but you feel you don’t really want to?