Since I’m into the “old,” I figured that I better go back to a story that has been told and in print for nearly 2000 years. It’s a compelling story. It’s ramifications on what it is to be Jesus’ ambassador are great. So here goes:
In the ancient city of Colossae (in present day Turkey), there was a well to do person who was known as a man full of love and full of faith. As was customary in those days, a person of means had slaves. As you can imagine, slaves often didn’t want to be enslaved. So one day, this man realized that one of his slaves by the name of Onesimus (Oh-nes-i-mus) had run away.
This slave ran off to the big city to get lost in the crowd. He ran far, far away (approx 900 miles) to the city of Rome. As only God could have it, Onesimus ran into Paul. Maybe the guilt of running away had gotten to Onesimus or maybe a friend of Paul’s suggested that Onesimus go see him in prison. The story doesn’t say, but what it does tell us is that Onesimus came to know the forgiveness of Jesus and he became a follower of Jesus through conversation with Paul.
Then the beauty of following Jesus became evident. Paul realized that even though Onesimus had been reconciled with God, there was still reconciliation with his master to be pursued. Paul and Timothy worked together on composing a letter to be sent to the master–the man full of love and full of faith. This letter was to be carried by hand and delivered to the master. The letter was not the only thing being sent. Onesimus would also be sent at the same time.
The master’s name was Philemon and so we the letter in our Bible today that was penned by Paul and Timothy. Paul wrote this letter to Philemon to pave the way for forgiveness and reconciliation. Paul knew about reconciliation. He knew intimately about being reconciled with God. Jesus spoke to him, forgave his past, and set him on the right path. Paul also new that God had given him “the task of reconciling people to him.” (2 Cor 5:19) That reconciliation is connected to being Ambassadors. (see the context in 2 Cor 5:19-21)
This amazing story has drawn me in. It has helped me to think about being in Onesimus’ shoes. To ponder what that long journey from Rome back to his master Philemon might have been like. To think about the joy Philemon must have had to embrace Onesimus as a brother.
As I’ve mused about this, I’ve meandered through some things that Paul said explicitly about Onesimus…and I think they connect to being an ambassador for Jesus.
Onesimus was sent by Paul (vs 12)
Onesimus was called USEFUL, even though prior he was USELESS (vs 11)
Onesimus was sent as Paul’s “very heart” (vs 12)
Onesimus was sent with financial support (vs 19)
Onesimus was sent as FAMILY (vs 16)
Wow…what implications for us as Ambassadors of Jesus who are reconciled with Jesus. After our reconciliation with Jesus:
We are sent by Jesus (John 17:18)
We are USEFUL, even though prior we were USELESS (Rom 3:10-12 then Eph 2:10, 2 Pet 1:8)
We are sent as Jesus’ “very heart” (John 15:9-17)
We are sent with Jesus’ financial support (Matt 6:19-34)
We are sent as part of Jesus’ FAMILY (John 1:12, Gal 4:7)
What a privilege it is to be reconciled to God and to be an Ambassador for Jesus.