Sermon Manuscript: An Uncommon Appeal
We all know the pain of broken relationships. Wouldn’t you agree with me? There isn’t a person in this room that has not experienced a divided relationship. As early as childhood, we know what it’s like to get into a squabble on the playground. We all know what’s like to have a friendship that goes sour because of something that was said or done. Some of us know what’s it’s like have a roommate that drives you insane, and you simply can’t get along. And if you’ve ever been married you know that no marriage is immune to hurt feelings or moments of tension. Unfortunately, some in here know the devastation of divorce.
There’s a common denominator in this—in all broken relationships. Maybe you call it irreconcilable differences. Or perhaps lack of communication. Maybe even an unwillingness for someone to give in. I call it sin. You see, something happened between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 that has colored all of life. Adam and Eve used to walk in harmony with God. The Bible says they were naked and not ashamed. Meaning there was authenticity, openness, and intimacy with each other and with God. But in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are no longer walking with God in open fellowship. Instead, they’re hiding from him. They’re trying to conceal themselves. It was their sin—their offense against God—that fractured their relationship with Him, and each other. And as long as we still live in the brokenness of this world, we will continue to experience the brokenness of relationships.
Let me ask you: what did you do the last time someone wronged you? What did you do the last time someone hurt your or offended you? What’s your default response? Perhaps you try to get even. Maybe you go your separate ways. Or perhaps you try to ignore the offense. And instead of dealing with it you allow yourself to grow bitter and resentful.
What if you’re on the other side of things? If you’re the one who caused the offense, how quick are you to apology? How well do you own your own sin against others? When someone confronts you, do you become defensive and dismissive?
At some point or another, each one of us is a “Philemon.” We’ve been wronged by someone else. And at some point or another, each of us is “Onesimus.” We’ve been the offender. And of course, many a times we find ourselves so deeply entrenched in conflict, that we find ourselves in both places. But if we want to have healthy relationships, there must also be reconciliation. Sin is never just a personal matter, it’s relational. If you’re not committed to reconciliation in your everyday relationships, one day you’ll wake up a very lonely person. The good news, however, is that the gospel has the power to change all of that.
We come to the small letter of Philemon this morning. And it’s a letter that tells an uncommon story about reconciliation and forgiveness. We want to spend this week and next, exploring one basic truth before us: The gospel not only changes us, it changes our relationships. The gospel, when encountered, reconciles us to God. But it also has the power to reconcile us to each other. It changes the way we handle conflict, the means by which we forgive others, and the very foundation from which we approach our relationships.