Having completed our review of the book of Acts, I’ve been thinking about where to go next here on The Life Project. I want to write something relevant, something that makes sense of the world around us, the events that flood our minds every day; something that answers questions that people ask in the midst of troubled times. Ideas come to mind but each time I am constrained by the fact that the public arena of my former life is not my calling.
I came at my dilemma from a different point of view, and I came up with a different idea: Which book of the New Testament have I not written about here yet?
There are three I haven’t written about yet, at least not specifically. They are 1 and 2 Corinthians and Philemon so, I decided to take on these three. In doing so, I nearly skipped Philemon again… and then it occurred to me that maybe it is the one I should do fist.
The book of Acts ends with Paul held prisoner in Rome as he awaits his hearing before Caesar. During this period, he wrote a number of letters to churches that have been included in the New Testament canon and among these is one that hardly any notice is taken of in our age; it is only 25 verses long and doesn’t contain any great or memorable verses or passages, and doesn’t really seem to appeal to us. In fact, in a way it is a little quaint, since it deals with an issue that we don’t really deal with any more; an issue that is pretty much personal between Paul and Philemon.
To make it even more obscure, it is the only one of Paul’s letters contained in the New Testament that is written only to an individual, and that particular individual isn’t really known to us, since he isn’t mentioned anywhere else. In the letter, Paul is making a request of Philemon, a rather delicate one, as it turns out. In the process of making this request, Paul is giving us a practical example of how we should deal with others when a delicate issue is being resolved. He doesn’t make any threats, he doesn’t “pull rank” and lord his position as an apostle over anyone. Instead he follows the path of brotherly love in his appeal, and it seems to me that in our most uncivil of worlds, we can learn a great deal from his example, and comes to my mind as something that it is noting if not relevant in this world in which we live.
So, here’s the plan: Beginning Monday the 26th, I’ll introduce the book and we’ll begin our investigation. In the meantime, I’ll share a few other thoughts that have come to mind in recent days…