by Brock Benson
On Sunday we will begin a new series at Revive Church that I believe will take us three weeks to get through. But, to be honest, as I have been in study and preparation over this book this week, God’s been showing me it may take longer. The book of Philemon, while short and sweet, probably begs the question how can we take more than three weeks in a book that only has 25 verses? The answer really centers around how I want us to handle the book as we approach it. I believe the study of Philemon, in the context of where we are particularly at as a church body and where we generally stand in the fabric of human history, makes understanding what God wants to tell us through this book very very important.
I got an email from Phil Baker this morning with a devotional reading on Psalm 12 and I loved what it said. It takes willful compartmentalization to not read Psalm 12 and not think about our election this year. As I meditated over that statement it occurred to me that it would take willful neglect for us as a community of faith at Revive Church to read and study Philemon over the next few weeks and not see how it connects to what is taking place in culture right now. Never before in my life have the issues of race, reconciliation and equality been at the forefront of media, sports, and everyday life as much as they are today. It doesn’t matter if I am listening to sports radio in my car or just skimming facebook, this struggle is real. I surface that in this post because on Sunday morning I am getting ready to begin an explanatory study of a book that is going to cause many of us to come face to face with some of the issues being presented in our culture.
My hope and prayer is that God’s word will challenge us in a very raw way this next month like it never has before. We learn from the Bible that it is alive and sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Which means even if we think we know “the story”, our duty as Christians is to allow God the power enough to change the way we hear the story so he can continue to shape us into the image of his son Jesus Christ. Over the past several days God has been reshaping the way I have read and understood this epistle in my own personal life and I am being confronted with some of my dogmatic tendencies that I don’t really want to see. Should you decide to join us for the next few weeks I imagine the same thing might happen to you. So actually you might not want to come.
No we aren’t rocking to Jock Jam lyrics the next several weeks through this study. But we are going to get very real. So I ask the question: Are you ready for this? Our neighbors, co-workers and friends are asking tougher questions right now and some even believe the bible is archaic and un-relevant. I don’t know how you could read Philemon and study it and come away with that belief. So buckle your seat belt and get ready for a penetrating study in the smallest of Paul’s letters. But, no doubt, one of the most important for our day. See you Sunday!