Philemon 1-7 – The Gospel Changes Who We Are and Makes A Difference In How We Love

It seems as though we can’t turn on the TV, check Facebook, or even talk to a distant relative without being told that “they” are what’s wrong with the world. Who are they? I guess it depends on who you’re listening to. It could be the liberals, the immigrants, the millennials, the union workers, the conservatives, the retired, the refugees, the Christians, the universities, the rural blue-collar workers, the homeless, or any other group of people. I’m sure you could even add more to this list of groups of people you’ve been told are the problem.
But the gospel (the good news of Jesus’ perfect life, his death in our place for our sins, and his resurrection conquering sin and death) changes us. It does more than only change our eternal destination, although it does do that. It changes who we are. It gives us a new identity. And out of that new identity, we see the world differently. Our worldview changes. And we view others differently.
Apart from a saving faith in Jesus, we really might believe that any of those groups listed above are our enemies. But when Jesus saves us, our minds are renewed, and they begin to change. Through the gospel, we now have the same mind as Christ. “Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7).
So, because Jesus first did this and because he’s given us the same mindset, the gospel will create in us a similar way of viewing others. We’ll begin to see them as Jesus sees them. We’ll consider others as more significant than ourselves. The Holy Spirit will empower us to look to the interests of others more than our own.
No longer do we see others as fools, opponents, or even enemies but through the gospel we see them as image bearers of God, so loved by him that he died in their place. We see ourselves in their sin, knowing the not yet sanctified darkness of our own hearts. We see ourselves in their weakness, remembering how spiritually powerless we were apart from Christ.
We know we cannot love our enemies, right? It is hard enough to love those who are different than us. The reason that we even can love our enemies is not because that is what good Christians do, it is because Jesus first did it and now gives us his Spirit to empower us to do the same. Jesus forgave those who betrayed him. Jesus forgave those who falsely accused him publicly. Jesus forgave those who tortured and mocked him. Jesus even forgave those who executed him unjustly. And Jesus offers this same forgiveness to the world. When we’ve believed this, this enemy forgiveness become our reality. And out of it, through the power of the Spirit, we’re able to do the same.
So today when you’re tempted to hate someone different than you, when you’re told some other group of people are the real problem, or when you come face to face with an enemy, remember how Jesus interacted with you. He loved us when we were very different than him (he was holy, we were far from it). He loved us when we were the problem (he was sinless, we were sinful). He loved us when we were his enemies.

Spencer Peterson

Read Philemon 1-7 and consider how the gospel creates in us a new identity that in turn provides a new way to relate to others. In what ways do you struggle to grasp these realities? Where can the Spirit work to grow you in how you relate to others within your identity as God’s child and his ambassador?

Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me by CityAlight
Posted on: September 18, 2020 - 1:04PM

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