He was at the beck and call of his master every day. Sometimes the work was difficult. Being a slave meant that he would not have the freedom that others had. So he ran away.
He got as far as Rome and met up with a very imposing figure in God’s church, the Apostle Paul. He would be with Paul and serve him. Paul taught him and he was baptized into Christ.
After a while Paul decided he needed to go home. So he wrote a letter and gave it to Onesimus to take to his friend and brother in Christ, Philemon. Could you image that meeting? The runaway slave has returned home. How would the master treat him? Would he be beaten? Would he sell him to another? What would he do?
After reading the letter Paul sent, he accepted him, not necessarily as a slave, though he would remain a slave, but now as a brother in Christ. What a difference! Can you imagine the first worship service where Philemon, the wealthy slave owner, and Onesimus, the runaway slave worshiped together?
God brings together all men. There is no distinction between the “Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female” (Galatians 3:28). Any person, no matter the nationality, color of skin, gender, etc., has the opportunity to obey God’s gospel and come to Him.
As Paul wrote to Philemon about Onesimus, He asked him to accept him back as a brother. He told him that Onesimus “who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and me.” (Philemon v11). There was a time that Onesimus was unprofitable, useless. Now he is profitable, useful. But why is he useful now? Because he has had an encounter with Jesus Christ.
Jesus takes men who are floundering in life with no real aim or purpose and gives them purpose. He gives peace to those who have no peace. He gives hope to those who were once hopeless. Is Jesus a part of your life? Are you being useful to Him or useless? His desire is that we all are useful.