Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus—10I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. —Philemon 1:8-12
Paul was not just the greatest theologian the church has ever known, he was actually a relational genius. By the end of his life, he seems to have mastered the concept that so often gets us sideways: It is not enough to believe the right things. The challenge is consistently putting those things we believe into practice in the ways we relate to the people around us. Paul helped Philemon with that challenge.
If we look at our lives for a moment we would acknowledge that if we’re sideways, more often than not, it’s relational rather than theological. We can believe the right things but really be struggling to put them into practice in our families and our friendships.
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