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For a little while
by Susan Barnes 
11/17/13
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The short letter that Paul wrote to Philemon concerning Onesimus has much to teach us about God's ways. Onesimus had been Philemon's slave but he ran away to Rome, where in the amazing providence of God he met Paul and became a Christian.

Paul writes: "Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good – no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother." (Philemon 15-16). The separation was worth it because the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus was not only restored but improved.

God allowed suffering and consequently separation to enter the perfect world he created and we may wonder why? Yet in God's economy, it was only "for a little while," because God had a plan to restore the relationship. Not only to restore it but to improve it. No longer would his people be slaves but friends. "I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me" (John 15:15 NLT).

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve knew God's holiness and justice. But living in a perfect world meant that Adam and Eve lived under a death threat. One bad choice, no second chances, meant instant spiritual death and eventually physical death. There was something slave-like about Adam and Eve's relationship with God. God could not confide in Adam and Eve the way he wanted because Adam and Eve did not know the depths of God's compassion, mercy and grace while they lived in this state of perfection.

God wants relationships with his people like that of dear brothers and not like that of slaves and he will go to extraordinary lengthens to achieve it, even allowing suffering to disappoint our expectations of him.


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