Philemon 17-18. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
Martin Luther spoke of the “great exchange” that occurred on the cross. On the cross, Christ exchanged our sin for his righteousness. Our debt was laid on him and his freedom was laid on us, all by means of our union with Christ.
In his letter to Philemon, the Apostle Paul will apply this same great exchange to himself and Onesimus, the runaway slave. Just look at the language he uses:
receive him as you would receive me.
If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.
Paul also calls himself and Philemon “partners.” This is the word koinonia again. A word that is directly connected to our union with Christ. The idea is that because we are all IN CHRIST, we are also all IN ONE ANOTHER. We are mutually members of one another (Rom. 12:5). We are all the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12). We belong to one another. We are partners in Christ. Therefore, to reject any one Christian, is to reject both Christ himself and all other Christians. And to accept any one Christian, is to accept the Lord Christ, and all other Christians.
You see Paul isn’t just appealing to Philemon’s sense of honor, or even his “Christian kindness.” Paul’s appeal goes even deeper than the character of Philemon. It goes to the character of Christ himself. It goes deep into the doctrine of our shared union with Christ, our mutuality, our koinonia.
Christian, is there someone that you know of that could benefit from a “great exchange” today? Someone who could use some good old fashioned koinonia? Is there a debt might you cancel or assume as your own? Is there someone you might receive into friendship as you would Christ? Who do you need to reconcile with as if they weren’t just themselves, but representative of the entire body of Christ?
You see in Christ all Christians are a package deal. When you received Jesus, your received his whole body, his entire bride, all his siblings – the whole church. No longer can we set aside someone that has wronged us, or someone that we don’t like very much, or someone that just simply isn’t our cup of tea. No, our union with Christ, our koinonia with one another, demands that we accept one another in the Lord.
But what if the other person doesn’t deserve this koinonia?
They won’t. But neither did you when Christ partnered with you and exchanged his life for yours. The great exchange will never be about what we have earned or achieved. It will always only be about grace.
“To live is Christ” has placed us both into Christ, and therefore into one another. Through this mutual koinonia we can now live out the great exchange of Jesus for each other. Sharing our position of freedom in Christ with those who desperately need his grace.
Is there someone that you have failed to accept or receive into your life? What has made this difficult?
You in Christ
How does knowing that Christ exchange his life with yours on the cross empower you to share your life with others today?
Christ in you
Who can you exchange lives with today? How?
Playlist: Beautiful Exchange.
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