Strange Bedfellows (Philemon 1:15-16)

Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush were once staunch political rivals, with President Clinton defeating President Bush’ re-election bid in 1992.  Yet after their respective presidencies, both became close friends and golfing buddies.


Joe Louis and Max Schmeling were heavyweight boxing champions of the world and together symbolized the growing animosity between America and Nazi Germany. In 1936, Schmeling defeated Louis and Adolf Hitler touted Schmeling as proof of the superior Aryan race. In 1938, Louis won the rematch. After World War II, the two became life-long friends, decrying the racist and nationalistic propaganda that others projected upon them.


Strange bedfellows.


The Bible is replete with stories of strange bedfellows-formal rivals now comrades and friends. The Apostle Paul was once a sworn enemy of the first Christians and Peter was one of their leaders. God intervened and changed Paul’s heart, bringing them together. It was an unlikely pairing-Paul was a scholarly Pharisee and Peter was a fisherman, but this is how God works, creating reconciliation and relationships between the most unlikely and strangest of bedfellows.


For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Philemon v.15-16 (ESV)


In a very touching letter, the Apostle Paul wrote to a slave owner named Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave (bondservant), Onesimus. Paul had met Onesimus and led him to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Paul encouraged Onesimus to return to Philemon and seek reconciliation with him. At the same time, Paul wrote this letter to Philemon urging him to accept Onesimus as a fellow brother and believer in their Lord Jesus Christ. Paul encouraged Philemon to show forgiveness to Onesimus in the same manner that their Lord Jesus Christ, demonstrated His grace and mercy to each of them by forgiving them of their sins.


Political rivals. Competitive athletes. Master and slave. Like these examples, we are all strange bedfellows to God. Left to our own natures, we would deny God and choose our own abilities and rest upon our accolades, thinking these are necessary and sufficient to make us good people. These are important but we are still sinners, hopelessly lost unless we confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.


Sinner and God. Through faith and believe in Jesus Christ, we will no longer be strange bedfellows to God. We will be His friend and adopted sons and daughters of God.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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