Paul had the apostolic authority to demand reconciliation between Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Instead,he appealed to them on the basis of love. Alistair Begg emphasizes that love is foundational in our service to Christ and our responses to each other. Just as Paul encouraged Philemon to welcome Onesimus’ return as a brother, our relationships should be radically transformed by Christ.
The Road of Reconciliation
Being reconciled to God not only changes our relationship with Him, but also changes the way we view the world and our relationships with others. The Bible calls Christians to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven each of us – an impossible task apart from the empowering grace of God. As Alistair Begg warns, “we dare not claim to love God, whom we cannot see, if we are failing to love our brother who stands before us plain as day.” When we follow Paul, Philemon, and Onesimus along the road to reconciliation, we see the transforming power of the Gospel at work for the glory of God.