Last week, our church hosted kids 9-11 years old at a Superhero themed camp in the great outdoors. Truth be told, superheroes in modern culture aren’t my forte. While they’re all the rage right now, I could maybe identify two superheroes by name in a 3-man lineup. EEEEK – stick with me, all you Marvel fans out there – yes, I googled that.


So what’s a dork mom to do when she’s trying to hang with the cool kids all excited about superheroes? I don’t know, put on a mask and cape, and give yourself a cool super hero name! Double EEEEK! I couldn’t even think of a cool superpower!

But here was the cool thing about this camp – you know where this is going, right? JESUS is the ultimate, matchless, most powerful superhero EVER!!! And HE is a superhero I do know something about and has come to my rescue. I could write the never ending sequels to all the times He has saved the day and saved me.


While we swapped stories, sang songs, swam, hiked; we also learned about our Superhero Jesus! These kids just melted me and brought my heart to a much needed child-like place of faith. During one evening of devotions we shared in our small groups who some of the superheroes are in our life. I had one camper share that her parents were her superheroes because she was adopted from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and born with medical problems. Her mom couldn’t take care of her, so her parents stepped in and adopted her and gave her a better life. Another one of my campers shared that her mom was a veteran and served in the military protecting people, and she was her superhero. These girls get it – they recognized at an early age how they had superheroes in their life. People that protected them, defended them, cared for them, even at their own risk or loss. These are people that are following Jesus and showing His sacrificial love. We learned an awesome song at camp with this verse: Jesus, You’re my Superhero, You swooped down and You rescued me”.


Jesus is our first and best Superhero, perfectly demonstrating how to love the unlovely, grace the sinner, and protect the weak. And while we can never perfectly mirror Jesus, we sure can strive for excellence! 1 Peter 1:16 encourages us to “Be Holy, for I am Holy”.


And as we open up to our reading for today – the entire book of Philemon (one chapter), we see Paul following in Jesus’ footsteps. He serves as a superhero to Onesimus, standing in the gap between Onesimus & Philemon, the recipient of this letter. Onesimus (I’ve heard it pronounced oh-NESS-i-muss) was a slave that ran away from Philemon, and while on the run he became a Christ follower, taught by Paul and loved by Paul. Paul sends him back to Philemon with this letter, vouching for Onesimus, building up his character, taking on his debt, and asking for him to be received how Philemon would receive Paul himself. He asks all these things in love, rather than requiring it from Philemon, as his superior in the early church.


This is a really cool letter to study with so many little glimpses of Jesus shining through. Paul humbles himself when he doesn’t have to. He has a heart for reconciliation between people he cares deeply for. Paul is willing to assume the debt or restitution of Onesimus – interceding for the people he is leading.


While we never know exactly how this situation ends, we do know that Paul was very confident that Philemon would respond favorable to Paul’s request of reconciliation (vs. 21). And at the very end of this letter we get one more little clue of reconciliation in Paul’s world. He sends greetings from Mark – who he was separated from in the ministry for a period of time due to a disagreement (Acts 13 & 15) and yet here we see that they have reconciled and Paul is sending greetings on Mark’s behalf. I love this picture of how the Holy Spirit leads people to reconciliation, and sometimes uses one another in the process.


Have you had someone stand in the gap for you, vouch for you, take on your debt when they weren’t responsible? Maybe someone backed you in the workplace, or stuck up for you in school. We are surrounded by superheroes that are following Jesus’ footsteps – from organ donors to foster parents, teachers and firemen. Take a moment and reflect on and thank God for the superheroes He has sent your way. These people are the gospel message in action – standing in the gap and interceding for us just like Jesus did at Calvary. Our perfect Superhero took on our sin debt, vouched for us, pleaded for our forgiveness, all while we were still sinners. Jesus is our Superhero!

One Example of Biblical Maturity

Growing up I called myself a Christian. I did everything a “Christian” should do, the only problem was that I had no relationship with God. As I went through my college years and into the present time, I still feel like my relationship with God is at such a basic level. Just like any relationship, it takes time to truly get to know one another. I am finally working on that with God and as I do, I start to understand things that I didn’t have a clue on in my younger years. I imagine that in 50 years from now, I will look back and have a good laugh at what I thought I knew and the relationship I thought I had with God. Philemon is a short letter that is written by Paul and is a story about a guy named Onesimus. Let’s dive into this!


Philemon Chapter 1 is a story about forgiveness. I think we can all relate and think of a time where we did something before we knew Christ, only to be saved by grace through faith and now have to face the problem you created. Onesimus had to do that very thing in this story.


The letter starts off with Paul writing to someone named Philemon. We found out that Philemon was a guy that Paul shared the gospel with and it changed his life. Philemon went back to where he lived to tell others about the gospel and he grew to be a major part of the church. As the letter continues we find out that Philemon had a bondservant (slave/employee) named Onesimus. Onesimus did something to Philemon, the passage hints toward him stealing something because Paul offers to put Onesimus’s debt on his “tab.”


Onesimus, after stealing from Philemon, runs off to Rome to escape any kind of reprimand but guess what? He runs into a guy named Paul. Paul teaches him the gospel and he becomes a Christ Follower. Now the story could have ended right there. Paul could have used Onesimus to help him out with ministry in Rome, but check out what he does!



I 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.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.



Do you see the maturity in this passage? Paul is good friends with Philemon and as he got to know Onesimus he found out that he was one of Philemon’s bondservants. He could have just sent Philemon a letter and said, “ Hey man, I found your boy Onesimus. He heard the gospel and believed, now he’s my right-hand man so I’m going to need him here,” or Paul could have never said a word BUT he didn’t do either one of those. He chose to get his friend’s consent.


Have you ever done something behind someone’s back thinking they would never find out…. and they did? Paul is so mature in his faith that he wants to make things right with Philemon and Onesimus rather than selfishly keeping him for his own intentions. Even though his intentions were good.



I think the moral of the story is to think about the decisions you make and how they affect not only yourself but also others. Also be willing to forgive someone who has wronged you, especially if they didn’t know Christ at the time that they wronged you. Have a great Thursday everyone!