There are two implications from the past three days of study in Philemon:
1) You cannot claim to truly love Christ if you have no love for His Church.
This is precisely what Paul sees in Philemon’s heart, and what prompts Paul to thank God for His work in and through this man in v4-5. Christ and His Church are separate things and they are the same thing. They are separate things in that love for Christ and love for Christ’s Church are different loves. They are the same thing in that love for Christ leads to a deeper love for Christ’s Church. The principle at work here is this: the more you seek to love Christ the more you’ll find your heart beginning to love the very things that Christ loves. What does Christ love the most? His glory. What is the primary means Christ employs to display His glory among the nations? His Church. Therefore the more one grows in love for Christ, the more one will naturally grow in love for His Church.
More so, Christ and His Church are intimately connected so that if you turn away from one you inevitably turn away from the other. C.S. Lewis said, “If God is your Father, the Church shall be your Mother.” God placed this twofold love in the heart of Philemon, and Paul loved it, and thanked God for it.
Has God placed it in you? What do you feel about the Church? Do you feel a love, respect, yearning, and desire to be in it and used by God so it grows more and comes to bring a lasting influence on the cities we live in? Or, do you feel somewhat neutral or disinterested in the Church? Are you just putting on a face and going through the motions, faking your Christianity before the eyes of the world?
Philemon’s love for Christ and love for Christ’s Church shows us the normal pattern for all believers. If we truly love Him we’ll truly love His people.