St. Paul's Evangelical
Free Lutheran Church
21513 Leitersburg-Smithsburg Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
Evangelical - Confessional - Faithful
The Pastor's Thoughts
"I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ."
Perhaps the least read of Paul's letter is the shortest one, the letter to Philemon. It's a personal message in which Paul asks Philemon to not punish a runaway slave named Onesimus who had become a Christian and was returning to Philemon. Because it is so short we get quickly to the main point and it's easy to skip the quote I've put up next to this note.
Paul knows the man he is writing to. He knows what kind of Christian Philemon is. He's a man who cares for his fellow saints - the ones in his congregation. God brought those men and women together and He made them into a worshipping body in the Body of Christ. Philemon loved those people because they were the living face of Christ to him. And that is as it is meant to be. Few things are sadder than discord in a congregation, a healthy congregation is first of all a congregation in which love is alive and visible, for the sake of Christ and to the benefit of His gathered people.
Do you notice something else here? Paul commends Philemon and prays that the sharing of his faith will be effective. What the Apostle is doing here is pointing out the two aspects of the Christian life he sees in Philemon. First, Philemon loves the brethren. He loves the brothers and sisters brought together by Christ without respect to their or status in the world. The second part of Philemon's life is his witness, the sharing of his faith in the world.
The word 'witness' describes the act of telling others what we know from our own experience. THat's what evangelism is. We know good news because we have experienced good news. It seems hard to us because we make it hard. It's really a simple and natural thing to do.
On September 6 the Evangelism Committee is holding a workshop on how to do this simple act simply. We should all be there.
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