The book of Philemon is one of the smaller books of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul to Philemon, and tells us the story of a slave named Onesimus, and from the letter we find out a lot about the relationship between Philemon and Onesimus.
From the letter it appears that Onesimus, a slave of Philemon, had wronged his master. The likelihood is that he had possibly stolen from Philemon and then ran away. However, we also find out that whilst on his travels running away, Onesimus comes across Paul, and through this contact, Paul had led Onesimus to Christ. Verses 12-13 say "I am sending him - who is my very heart - back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel." Onesimus had become useful to Paul, however Paul realises that he has to return back to Philemon. And so, in sending him back, here is Paul's letter to Philemon asking that on his return, Onesimus isn't treated like a thieving runaway slave, but rather as a brother in Christ.
Onesimus had been transformed by the power of the gospel! And this has been the same for each of us. If you have chosen to follow Jesus, if you are born again, then your life has been transformed by the power of the gospel. You have been taken from being a slave to sin to being a son of the living King.
When we read the letter to Philemon, and when we think of what it was that Onesimus had done, we may come to the conclusion that he is a fortunate man. At one time a runaway slave who had stolen from his master, he found Jesus and returned to his master as an accepted and loved brother of Christ. He was restored to his master and became useful in the masters eyes.
It is certainly a timely reminder for each of us of the amazing grace that has been shown to us, and to each person who has placed their faith in Jesus. When we place our faith in Jesus, we go from darkness to light, and become useful to the master!