Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Epistle of Entreaty
By Shanta Richard
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The slanting rays of the setting sun reached into the cave and woke up the young man huddled in the corner. Onesimus woke up and rubbing the sleep out of his eyes he walked outside to the little stream. He washed his face and drank deeply of the cool clear water. He sat on the rocks and caught a fish swimming in the shallows. He cooked it and ate it with the last piece of bread in his knapsack. His hunger satisfied he dusted his robe, threw it over his shoulders and started walking down the country road. Travelling at night, he had discovered, was much easier and faster than travelling in the heat of the day. He knew that by day break he would reach the outskirts of the city of Colossae, where his master’s estate was located.
As he lengthened his strides, his heart beat faster in anticipation of what the future might have in store for him. He touched his girdle to make sure the precious parchment was safe. It was his passport to freedom and happiness, which meant a lot him, a run-away slave. He hesitantly entered the gates. Fear gripped him and he prayed silently for strength. It was then that he saw the master’s son, Archippus walking towards him. He ran and fell at his feet. Archippas raised him to his feet and hugged him.
“I am so glad you decided to come back, Onesimus,” he said.
“O Master, please forgive me. I ran away to Rome and there I met the Good Apostle Paul. He taught me what Christian love meant and he lived what he preached. He showed me how wrong I was to run away. He was imprisoned and in chains yet he was not resentful or angry. He said that Jesus never cursed the soldiers who whipped and tortured Him. I promised to learn to love and serve God. So he wrote a letter by his own hand to our master, Philemon, and told me to deliver it to him in person. And so here I am.”
Philemon was not pleased to see Onesimus. He had been disobedient and had also stole money from him. Onesimus handed him Paul’s epistle and fell at his feet and pleaded for mercy. But as Philemon read the epistle his face changed. Somehow this wayward slave of his had won the favor and love of Paul. And now, Paul his beloved master was entreating him to forgive and accept Onesimus as his own son. His eyes brimmed with tears as Paul’s handwritten words spoke to him.
“If you love me, love my son Onesimus. If he owes you anything charge it to my account. I will pay it. But forgive him. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand.”
It was written in Paul’s own handwriting, making it a personal treaty, a legal document. It was not a piece of parchment. It was a treasure, a keepsake, something too personal for words. It was a declaration of trust, because Paul was confident that Philemon would honor it. It was just as if Paul was dipping his pen in the love that flows from his heart and putting it in writing for Philemon to see and feel.
Does this not bring to mind the picture of the crucified Christ, signing the document of human Salvation with His own blood?Onicemus’ freedom and happiness depended upon his confession and his surrender for Paul’s epistle to become effective. Salvation by the blood of Christ is also effective only when we confess and surrender.
Tradition has it that Onesimus was forgiven and served God faithfully as the Bishop of Ephesus.
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