I want to begin with a question: who are some of the most polar opposite people on the planet? So polar opposite that they not only wouldn’t normally have anything to do with the other, but would actively go out of their way to stay away from each other. Anyone come to mind when you think of that? I thought of one such group: Osama Bin Laden, Hillary Clinton, and Jerry Zaccone. I cannot help think of three more different people. If they walked into a room together the odds are pretty good that only one of them would walk out. In all the instances we’ve mentioned what would it take for these people to become close enough to call each other family? AN ACT OF GOD!!
Keep this in mind, because as we turn to our new sermon series going through Paul’s letter to Philemon we encounter another polar opposites pair. Paul (a once proud Pharisee), Philemon (a wealthy landowner), and Onesimus (a poor slave). What happens when these three very different men with three very different positions in life come face to face with the gospel of grace? They are radically re-oriented and forever changed by the same gospel. They are changed so much that they begin to see each other not as enemies, but as brothers. Crazy huh?
I’ve title our series on Philemon “Grace on the Ground” because the letter to Philemon teaches us what happens when the grace of God grips a heart. Or to say it another way: when God gives grace to a sinful human being, that human being doesn’t remain the same, they change. What causes that change? The grace of God. What does that change look like in the person’s life? It looks like Grace on the Ground. It changes things, it re-orients thing, it transforms everything about us.