Thursday, October 3, 2013

Philemon's Rant

Dammit, Paul, what are you doing to me?

Seriously, what the hell?

Even in prison you manage to be a pain.

How could you write that kind of letter to me, asking me to do something so out of line, so sure to draw  

Do you know what people will think of me if I free this worthless slave?  After what he did?  

And if asking me to do this wasn't enough, you put it in a letter not just to me, but to Apphia and Archippus and to the whole church?  I know you know there are other slaveholders in the church that meets in this house.  Are you trying to turn all of us into outcasts?  And what are those other slaves going to say now that they've heard this letter from you?  How are they going to behave to their masters?

Paul, I am so angry with you I can't see straight.  How could you ask me, in front of a whole houseful of witnesses, to do something like this?  It's arrogant.  It's disruptive.  It's just completely out of order.  If you were here I'd probably try to choke some sense into you.  I am so angry with you because ... because ...

Because you're right.

Yes, I know you're in prison.  I never forget that.  You know that, don't you?  Do you really have that little faith in me?  

And yes, I know I owe you my own life.  I see what you did there, "not mentioning" that.  I remember what I was before.  If only God would let me forget.  

And yes, I can see that Onesimus is different.  That slave chapped me like no slave I've ever had.  If it weren't for what he took when he ran I'd frankly have been relieved to be rid of him.  Now?  Totally different.  Quiet, humble, gracious. And yet incredibly well-spoken on your behalf.  I don't even recognize him.  It's almost as if he has become an evangelist himself.  And yes, I can see that he really wants to go back to you and Timothy and Epaphras and the others.  I remember what it was like to be changed like that.  To know suddenly what it is to live, not just survive or get by.  Or maybe I didn't completely learn that before.

Last night I overheard Archippus speaking to Onesimus.  Trying to be quiet, but Archippus has a voice like a trumpet.  Obviously he was testing Onesimus.  "You know you could be killed, don't you?"  Onesimus's answer sounded so like you: "If I live, it is for the Lord.  If I die, it is for the Lord."  

You know I'm going to send him back.  You did know this, didn't you?  Did you at least have that much faith in me?  I believe he will be carrying some gifts from the congregation as well.  Receive them in good health.

And you had better come back here as soon as you are freed.  Do you know what kind of ruckus is likely to break out around here?  You better get here and help settle things down.  

I can't believe what I'm doing.  I cannot imagine what life is going to be like now.  

You'd better be here to help, Paul.  

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