Philemon 1:8 – 16, 21 Modern Day Slavery
“Life (or something like it) Manton Christian Camp 2011
“Without social piety (holiness) there is no personal piety (holiness)” John Wesley.
Buried in our spiritual heritage is a simple truth. If we are “holy” then it is not just personal (for us). The issue of “injustice” is actually one of “holiness.”
Without social holiness, our faith is hollow.
I. What’s the story?
A. State of slavery (by Emily J.)
B. Line from an old rock song: “too many churches and not enough truth.”
1. Is truth absent in our churches?
a. NO! It’s a common mistake/lie to charge Christians as not having “enough” truth.
b. BTW, we call it “theology.” (It’s the fancy word for “truth.”)
1.) How well do we know the Bible?
2.) How well do we know our theology?
2. Maybe what the song is complaining about is that there is nothing that makes us different.
a. Want fellowship?
1.) You can go to a bar.
2.) “Everybody wants to go where they know your name?” (Theme song for “Cheers” TV show… I didn’t watch much)
b. What do we have to offer to this world?
II. We offer “holiness.”
A. Holiness starts with love.
1. God’s love started it all:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]
a. Why did God do this?
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!” [John 3:17 CEV]
b. Why do we need to be saved?
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” [John 3:19]
2. Paul appeals to Philemon [v 8] “for love’s sake.”
a. He could have commanded or demanded… instead he reached deeper into Philemon’s soul.
b. There is something about love that compels us in a way authority or threats cannot.
B. Holiness changes our relationships.
1. It changes our relationship with God.
a. Without saving faith in Jesus we are God’s enemies:
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” [Romans 5:10]
b. But now everything is new!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]
2. It changes our relationship with others.
a. We now have a responsibility to bring reconciliation with God to others.
“What we mean is that God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace.” [2 Corinthians 5:19]
b. Look at what it did to Paul and Onesimus:
“I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.” [v 10]
a. Here’s the fun part… Onesimus means “useful.”
b. As a slave, he was anything but “useful.”
c. As a runaway slave, he was less than “useful.”
3. Paul now changes all the rules…
a. Roman society believed slaves were “necessary.”
b. Paul sends Onesimus BACK to his master…. WHY?
C. Holiness expects us to DO SOMETHING.
1. What we do we do because of love.
(From the musical “Don Quixote.”) He is asked by the woman “Why do you do the things you do?” Quixote’s response: “I hope to add a measure of grace to this world.” She spits: “That’s for your grace.” Quixote: “My lady knows better in her heart.” Her response: “What is in my heart will get me half way to hell.”
a. There is a world desperate to see God’s love… but only through those who call themselves by God’s name.
b. Paul appealed to the slave owner:
[v 14b CEV] “I want your act of kindness to come from your heart, and not be something you feel forced to do.”
a. Because, Onesimus is more than a slave.
“ For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever,  no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother--especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”
b. Paul is telling him that because of his relationship with Jesus, a slave is no longer a slave but a brother.
3. The expectation is not just “basic” it is “extravagant.”
“Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.” [v 21]
a. Wait: he’s not commanding or demanding… why the “obedience?”
b. Because loving God and loving others is who we are…
c. Because loving God and loving others does compel us from the inside.
d. Because loving God and loving others makes us extravagant beyond anything God would ask….
(Explain Blue Tree’s song “God of this city”… context is the sex trafficking industry in Bangkok.)
III. So what? What does this have to do with us?
A. The reality: (www.notforsalecampaign.org)
1. “Abolitionists fighting sex trafficking in both Southeast Asia and Latin America report that parents commonly sell their kids so that they can make an improvement on their home or purchase a vehicle or other consumer item.”
2. “Foreign children evoke even less sympathy than those who share the nationality or ethnicity of the mainstream population. For that reason, traffickers typically shift child slaves to the other side of the country or, even more effectively, across an ocean.”
3. “Sex traffickers target twelve- to seventeen-year-old children as their choice candidates.”
4. “The johns who pay regular visits to brothels prefer adolescents above any other age group.”
5. “The children are perceived to be criminals or sexual deviants or at best victims of their environment: desperate for survival, the kids “choose” to sell their bodies for profit.”
6. “Of course a child would not volunteer for the repeated trauma of ten (or more) grown men penetrating their bodies every evening.”
7. “We have a word for exploiting minors that way: RAPE”
8. “Adult “prostitutes” too can recount shocking testimonies of pimps locking them in closets, flogging them with coat hangers, and forcing them to service a staggering number of clients.”
9. Slaves do more than just that:
a. Slaves make your clothes…
b. Slaves mine the metals that make our cans…
c. Slaves manufacture your toys…
d. Slaves harvest your fruit, nuts, and veggies…
e. Slaves harvest, process, and transport your coffee…
f. Slaves make your cell phones possible…
g. Slaves are involved in almost everything you can buy…
B. Let’s talk chocolate: TIME TO RAISE THE BAR: The Real Corporate Social Responsibility Report for the Hershey Company
1. In 2005, children who had been trafficked from Mali to Côte d’Ivoire to work on cocoa farms ﬁled a lawsuit in US courts against cocoa traders Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Nestlé that is still ongoing. The children described being forced to work for long hours without pay and being kept by force on cocoa plantations.
2. As the predominant companies trading cocoa globally, Hershey purchases its cocoa from at least one of these companies
3. One politician put it this way: "D**n justice: It is necessity." [Wesley “Thoughts on Slavery”]
4. Wesley: “Long and serious reflections upon the nature and consequences of slavery have convinced me, that it is a violation both of justice and religion… Freedom is unquestionably the birth right of all mankind.”
5. The Free Methodist Church was the first to officially ask Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves. AND it was the first to condemn modern slavery.
6. B.T. Roberts wrote to Abraham Lincoln suggesting the reason the North was not winning the war was because the slaves were not free.
7. We denounce and resist all forms of slavery and human trafficking… (2007 General Conference)
C. Reality check:
1. The law of “supply and demand.”
a. We demand products made by slave when we purchase products made by slaves…
b. So slaves supply our demands…
c. We make owning slaves profitable…
d. Without our money slavery is pointless…
e. We, who “resist all forms of slavery,” are the cause of slavery…
2. Think about it…
a. No consumer…
b. No market…
c. No profit…
d. No incentive…
e. No slavery…
IV. Now what?
1. For those who are slaves…
2. For those who are trafficked…
3. For those who are exploited…
1. International Child Care Ministries (Sponsoring a child will make it less profitable for a parent to sell a child to “recruiters.”)
2. SEED Ministry (Provides living wages, makes people less vulnerable)
“One of our livelihood groups in Kenya, Faraja Widows, is seen as a bulwark in the fight against trafficking of children from the Kibera slum in Nairobi.” (David Brewer: SEED Ministry)
3. Not for sale (free2work)
1. Before you buy, do your research…
(The other day we were in the store on the free2work website researching the brands as we were shopping…. It takes time, but you will learn.)
2. Look for the independent verification: Fair Trade, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, Fair for Life. (To name a few.)
***** Personal note: A power point presentation (11 minutes) is available for III and IV from this sermon. *****