In life there has always been an us and them division. Over the years, this division has continued. Even in the most diverse gatherings, we see smaller groups and cliques that promote a lack of unity. In Philemon 1, we read in verse 6 of a “participation in the faith,” a faith that “we hold in common.” In this letter, Paul is telling Philemon he should be gracious to Onesimus because of God’s goodness towards him. He reminds him of the mutual partnership that we all have as part of the faith. Remember, we are all part of one body as believers – all connected – all part of the body of Christ. There is great diversity within the body of Christ, and yet, this diversity should never cause a lack of unity. We are all on the same team. It is through God’s creativity, through each of our separate skills, personalities, etc., that God is most glorified.
Only through love and forgiveness can there be an acceptance of our brothers and sisters. For our faith to be fruitful, it must be shared. The sharing of our faith is not simply sharing of the Gospel with Bible verses but living out the goodness of God—allowing the overflowing of God’s goodness through every good thing within us in Christ. The things we do point to Jesus. Our words, our deeds, our “participation in the faith” can only be effective if Jesus is recognized. This requires us to humble ourselves and each together let all that we say and do point to Him. It is never about us or them—it is always about Jesus.
Today as we see all the division around us, can we truly claim that we are sharing of our faith, or resources, our love? Can we see that we are together in partnership, together in unity? If someone looks at you, will the person recognize Christ? Are we effective or are we indifferent? Is God glorified or are our efforts self-boasting? Paul prays that Philemon may become effective through knowing the good things. Take some time today and ask the Spirit to remind you of the good things He has placed within you. May this reminder help motivate you to good works in Christ Jesus. May Christ be recognized in all you do and say.
“I pray that your participation in the faith may become effective through knowing every good thing that is in us for the glory of Christ.” – Philemon 1:6 [CSB]
“And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it.” – Philemon 1:6 [MSG]
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]