Thursday, May 27, 2010

Friends Or Enemies? (Part 1)

By Odon Bulamba (16 August 2002)

We are going to share about something that is crucial for every believer, and it’s in the book of Philemon. Philemon was a Christian and he believed in the Law of Moses so he could inherit the kingdom of God. Philemon was a courageous believer and knew the Word of God and because he was courageous he became Paul’s friend whom Paul regarded as worthy of the gospel.

Philemon had a few servants and one of them was called Onesimus. Later on Onesimus left Philemon’s house because he done something against Philemon and Philemon wasn’t happy (according to some Bibles) so Philemon had Onesimus put into jail for what he had done against him. While in jail Onesimus met up with Paul (I want to insist that some versions don’t say anything about this).

Philemon was Paul’s friend and also a fellow worker and Christians would meet together in his house. So who is a friend and who is an enemy? Who are our friends as Christians? Who are our enemies as Christians? Do Christians have enemies? If we love our enemies are they still our enemies or do they become our friends?

Philemon was Paul’s friend but the hardest thing to know as Christians is, who are our enemies and who are our friends? On what ground do we say that they are our friend or enemy? How and why is Jesus your friend? What is a friend? You can be brothers in the same family but it doesn’t mean you’re friends, or does it? I know three children who were born on the same day but were not friends, and each one of them had different friends. A friendship without love is not a friendship, if it is, then it’s just hypocrisy.

Paul wanted us to learn something from Philemon because Philemon got to a stage where he betrayed Paul as a friend. Philemon rejected the faith in a way that he put another human being in jail. He put aside forgiveness and forgot that Onesimus was his servant.

As Christians we must help that person to understand what they have done is sin. If you put someone in jail for twenty years and carry on living a normal life, you are mistaken because when people go to jail they often come out worse. But if you take this person into the jail of Jesus Christ, which is called ‘The Gospel Jail’, this person will find life and thank God.

There were two men playing checkers, the winner laughed at his friend because he had lost, so the loser got a knife out and stabbed him in anger. Anger can lead you to kill and this is not good for a Christian to have.

Philemon was a servant of God but when he was wronged he turned from God’s law. We must choose good friends and a good friend to have is Jesus Christ. If you have Him as your friend you will never have enemies because everyday Jesus will remind you that what they are doing to you, He has already paid for it. If people are against you Jesus will help you to understand that they don’t know what they are doing because with our human nature it is not easy to overcome our feelings; anger may come, hatred may come, but we must run to Jesus and ask Him to help us.

A good Christian can control what they are doing, and when this happens it will be a good testimony but if your actions don’t show the difference then there won’t be any testimony.

Onesimus went to jail and suffered but by the grace of God he met Paul. Paul knew that Onesimus was a slave but after talking to him he became a brother. So who is a slave? A slave has been created in the image of God but his or her value in the eyes of man is less than an animal because in some countries animals are treated better than humans.

Onesimus was a slave in Philemon’s house and even though Philemon knew he had been created in God’s image, Philemon didn’t regard Onesimus as a human being but always as a slave. How do you think people treated slaves at that time? If you read the Bible you will see how slaves were treated. Christians today are experts in humiliating people especially if they are poor. When Jesus was on this earth He was a poor man but when He comes back He’ll say to these Christians, “I was thirsty but you gave Me no water, I was hungry but you didn’t feed Me”, and maybe these are the people whom we have humiliated today.

So who are our slaves today? Our bodies? Friends? Children? Are we slaves? Many people today don’t want to be slaves and if someone called you a slave you wouldn’t like it. Jesus has called us to be His slave, not to humiliate us but to lift us up. If you are a slave in man’s eyes you are nothing but if Jesus calls you a slave it is to lift you up. A slave must obey his master, so do you obey Jesus? Be honest, do you obey Jesus Christ? If we don’t obey, can Jesus act as Philemon did? Will Jesus have us arrested and put in jail to be punished? Because He is Jesus and full of kindness, He keeps on forgiving us, he doesn’t want to torture us, He doesn’t want to put us in jail, He wants us to carry on and He wants us to learn from our mistakes so we can find life but one day this grace will end.

Remember the Israelites who were enslaved for 400years then set free just like that? We represent these people today. We are a slave to Jesus today but one day it will end and among us there will be some Josephs, Daniels and Joshua’s. If we are slaves and can humiliate ourselves, the Bible says that we will be exalted but if you don’t humiliate yourself, sorry, you cannot walk with Jesus.

Jesus knew He was going to be arrested and crucified but He let them arrest Him. Peter took a knife and cut the officer’s ear, but Jesus said, “If I needed someone to help Me I would have called an army of angels to fight for Me but because I have to humiliate Myself, now is the time”. So Jesus healed the man who had his ear cut off, even after the officer’s ear was healed he still had Jesus arrested and had him tortured.

Imagine solving someone’s problem free of charge and as a repayment they have you arrested and tortured, who can accept this? Jesus can. With this humility Jesus saved the world and this is why we are lifted up today. Jesus accepted to be humiliated in order to save our souls. What will you do if someone stripped you naked and spat on you? Will you forgive them? If you are arrested for no reason at all, will you try and defend yourself or just accept what they say? If we want to walk with Jesus we must control our tongues and then Jesus will defend us. Let’s humiliate ourselves like slaves.

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