Now I want to ask a favor of you. I could demand it of you in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do, but I love you and prefer just to ask you—I, Paul, an old man now, here in jail for the sake of Jesus Christ. My plea is that you show kindness to my child Onesimus, whom I won to the Lord while here in my chains. Onesimus (whose name means “Useful”) hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is going to be of real use to both of us. I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart. Philemon 1:8-12
We have all had the experience of asking people to be references for us when we apply for a new job. As an employer, I had to call these references to inquire about the prospective employee. Often, if I knew the person who was the reference, I would not even need to make the call. If the prospective employee was vouched for by an individual whom I knew, and that person was a person of integrity, that would be good enough. That prospective employee already had a foot in the door because I was leaning on the credibility of their reference.
There are two instances in the Bible where I saw that process at work. One was in the book of Acts, when Paul (formerly Saul, the Christian killer) had been vouched for by Ananias. Ananias had been given a vision by God that he was to heal Paul from temporary blindness, and then introduce him to the community whom he had been persecuting. Because people trusted Ananias, they trusted Paul. That was a leap of faith!
Then years later, Paul returned the favor by taking in Onesimus, a runaway slave, and then asking Philemon, for whom Onesimus had been a slave, to take Onesimus back- not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Paul was deft and convincing in his arguments to Philemon, and Onesimus went on to become a leader in the young Christian Church years later.
We give our credibility to causes and people that we care about. As people trust us, they trust our friends and our causes. So, it is a high calling to be a follower of Jesus. As our reputation goes with people, so goes the reputation of Jesus to people who may know of him only through our behavior.
Prayer: Thank you Father for the plan of letting us be the ambassadors for you on earth, Amen