For whatever reason, I keep finding inspiration for blog posts whenever my wife and I go to the amusement park in Denver. This time, I was inspired by gum. Well, really—the inspiration came from what my wife had to say about gum.
At this amusement park, there is a water ride that we experienced. The line leading up to this ride is a long, winding, concrete path that is decorated to look like the middle of a wilderness. There are large boulders everywhere, and a particular heavy cluster of them in one particular spot. One particular boulder within this cluster stands right next to the path, likely seven feet in height. To look at this rock, is strangely amusing, and yet disgusting, all at the same time. Why?
The rock is covered from top to bottom with all sorts of different colors and flavors of gum.
As if that were not enough, there is also one particular roller coaster ride at this amusement park with a similar fate. The platform where people board is built about 15 feet off the ground. When looking over the side onto the pavement, everyone can see where everyone has spat their gum onto the pavement. Again, strangely amusing, yet—an entirely disgusting display of “artwork.”
Taking all of this in, my wife said, “It probably just took one person to get everyone else to do that.”
Her statement reminded me of this video. Before reading further, please watch the short presentation to get a better feel for the application I’d like to make.
When we consider the book of Philemon, Paul is urging this idea of ‘starting a movement.’ If you thought one person couldn’t change the whole world, maybe you should take a second look at all the elements that are both included and implied in this short book.
Paul is embracing Philemon as an equal, making an appeal to him in love and with respect to receive Onesimus back as a brother in Christ (10-11). He shows Philemon how to receive Onesimus back by pointing to himself as the example; Philemon can see from Paul, the leader, that he must embrace Onesimus as a brother in the Lord (16). Philemon can see that Paul has accepted him as an equal, and now Philemon is encouraged to be Paul’s “first follower” (i.e. the first to start receiving those who make the change to follow God).
Oddly enough, we have no idea whether Philemon received Onesimus back or ignored Paul/Onesimus altogether. In any case, however, the key question is stated: “Will you be start this movement in your life today?”
Getting back to Bible basics involves remembering that Paul made a change to follow Jesus after he A) had been struck blind on the road to Damascus and B) had heard the full gospel from Ananias (Acts 9). If Ananias was the first ‘lone nut’ by which this movement of change began, then Paul is the first follower of the lone nut. He is calling his friends, Philemon and Onesimus, to join him. Now, you must consider your response…your simple switch. Will you join these useful, beloved brethren, and follow Jesus Christ?
If you are sitting on the fence, debating whether you should join the movement, feeling useless or unprofitable—fear not.
Paul killed Christians—but he made a change to follow Jesus.
Onesimus likely did wrong to Philemon (18)—but he made a change to follow Jesus.
You have made some mistakes in your life, just as I have—but you and I can change to follow Jesus.
Will you make the change to follow Jesus?
“Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, since I know that you will do even more than what I say” (Philemon 21).