Juneteenth and freedom

This past Saturday made 145 years since the big event. Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, along with 1800 troops, and announced that the Civil War was over. He also read a proclamation which stated, in part: “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.

President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Yet two and a half years later, there were over a quarter of a million slaves in Texas who were unaware of their new freedom. Celebrations broke out throughout Galveston and across the state as thousands of people discovered what had already been true for some time: they were free.

Paul writes: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:6-7) Not only are we not slaves, but we are sons and heirs. We are no longer the lowest members of the household; we have been exalted to the highest status.

Paul isn’t writing only of slaves to sin, however; he is specifically talking about those who are becoming slaves to legalism. Having been set free from the Law, they are now wanting to submit again to law keeping. Paul goes on to say, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) He is very adamant that the Galatians, who had come to know the freedom that Christ offers, not fall back into the slavery of law. In fact he tells them that their very salvation is in danger: “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) If Christians who have been saved by grace start depending on human achievement in their relationship with God, they are returning to a life of slavery.

If, then, we are free from the slavery of law, does that mean we have no responsibilities toward God? Of course, not. In that same chapter of Galatians, Paul writes: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

When writing to the Romans about their freedom from sin, Paul wrote: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” (Romans 6:15-19)

We are free, free to commit ourselves to a life of following God. In Galatians 5, Paul calls it being led by the Spirit. Rather than written rules, we follow the living Word of God. We are slaves to righteousness. We do not live as slaves to sin. We do not live the slavery of law keeping. We live lives of freedom in Christ, slaves to the righteousness of God.

Let us live as free men and declare God’s freedom to all. Let us live as sons of God and teach others to do the same.

{photo from msn.com}

6 thoughts on “Juneteenth and freedom

  1. Jeanne M.

    I grew up knowing about “June Teenth” but for a long time didn’t know what it meant. As a child, teen and young adult, I was always somewhat angry about the living conditions of the black people in Dallas, but didn’t know what to do about it. One time while riding the public bus, a older black woman was made to get up to give me, a young white girl, her seat. I tried to protest and the bus driver ordered me to sit down. I have always carried that memory and am so thankful that restrictions are no longer in place.

  2. Tim Archer Post author

    To be honest, Jeanne, I didn’t know much about it until I researched it for a bulletin article a few years ago. I was recently remembering one incident at the city pool, where a young black boy was being teased mercilessly by a group of white boys. At the time, I was just glad it wasn’t me (didn’t understand the racial undertones and was too much of a wimp to stand up for myself, let alone stand up for someone else).

    I’m glad my children don’t have a clue about most of the racial stuff. May they never have to learn. Unfortunately, they’ve already had to learn about the legalism.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Jeanne M.

    Laymond, protesting was not a known occurence during that time in the early 40’s in Texas. If it had happened later in my life, I wouldn’t have given in so easlity to the bus driver, but as a young teen girl, I was taught to obey those in charge, and that is what I did. I did smile at the lady and apologize for having to do it.

  4. Jr

    Unfortunately, the New Perspective on Paul (NT Wright) is attempting to put us back under slavery when it promotes that our final justification rests in our works. Instead of our works proving (as fruit) our already completed final justification in Christ, in the NPP they become our ground for final justification. Such is the spirit of religious slavery.

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