Welcomed with Honor

Philemon 17-18

My friend, Joe, was raised as a Brahman in India. He told me once that he didn’t even pour himself a glass of water until he was eighteen when after his father sent him away to military school to toughen him up. As a child, a woman was in their home every day using her broom to sweep the floors and courtyards and getting down on her knees to clean the latrines. Joe didn’t remember saying fifteen words to her all those years growing up. He couldn’t. She was an untouchable, and though caste was outlawed legally, it was still practiced socially.

Joe not only graduated from military school but matriculated to the U.S. and joined the U.S. Airborne as a paratrooper serving in Korea. Years later he returned to India with the woman he loved to get married in his childhood home. His dad had passed away, but his mom invited everyone to the wedding celebration-- relatives, friends, and business associates.

The party was already in full swing when a luxury Mercedes drove up to the entrance to the spacious courtyard. Her chauffer opened the door and an immaculately dressed woman stepped out.  As she started to move through the more than a hundred guests, everyone kept their distance. Then she saw Joe. She knelt down, lowered her head, and was about to kiss his feet, but Joe stooped down and lifted her to her feet. Then he gave her a big spontaneous hug. Everyone gasped, “My God, what’s he doing? Doesn’t he know who this woman is?” What the wedding guests didn’t get was that Joe was now an American citizen and proud of the fact that the Declaration of Independence stated that we’re all equal.

Joe’s mom had observed how her former house servant was being shunned by others, except by her son.  She went to her and as the matron of the house, took her by the hand and provided her a seat in the midst of the guests.

If Joe’s American citizenship could move him to reject all the old traditional hierarchy of India so that he and his mom gave their former untouchable servant a warm, gracious welcome to the feast, then those of us who have been invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb of God in the future need to, right now in the present, reject all social, cultural, economic, and racial power structures and lift each other up, open our arms, and give warm hugs.

For Philemon in the first century this meant that when Onesimus, his former slave, walked back into his home, he needed to greet him not just as a brother in Christ, but Paul pushed him even harder. Onesimus was to be welcomed as if the Apostle, himself, walked through the door.

“Therefore, if we are united as family in the household of faith, receive him as if you were receiving me. If he has wronged you or owes you anything, charge it to me.”

Note that Paul even pulls out his wallet and offers to pay the bill. In Jesus we’re family and this must be demonstrated in the flesh as we actually do give hugs, seats of honor, and financial support to our eternally precious brothers and sisters.

LORD, help me today to be filled with grace and warmth and acceptance, especially as I connect with all the different parts of your family. Help me to live out the declaration Paul made that in Christ there is no slave or free (Galatians 3:28).  

For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!