Juneteenth and Our Freedom in Christ
“Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work.”
(Psalm 62:11-12, ESV )
The Emancipation Proclamation was declared on January 1, 1863, freeing all slaves in the United States. But in Texas, slave owners were able to keep it a secret from their slaves—for two years the slaves kept working for their slaveowners without knowing the truth of their freedom. It was on June 19, 1865 that Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas. General Granger brought news that the war was over and that the enslaved were now free, two and half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Today, many African Americans celebrate Juneteenth to commemorate the joy amongst slaves who found out they were free.
African American pastor Tony Evans challenges all Christians with these words: “Jesus Christ, on Calvary two thousand years ago, signed your Emancipation Proclamation. He declared that you are free but Satan is trying to keep it a secret from you…You can start living through the freedom that you have because you have now been made free in Christ. That’s who you are but you must live like it.”
Psalm 62:12 reminds us that our lives will be judged by God. The good news is that when God judges followers of Christ, He sees Christ’s righteousness in us instead of our bad deeds or good works! In other words, we aren’t condemned by our sin nor saved by our attempts to do good. Our salvation rests in Christ’s work alone applied to repentant people who fully depend on the Lord’s graciousness. The spiritual Emancipation Proclamation that Evans talks about is that we are free from the rightful judgement of the bad we’ve done and free from trying to rely on our good works to earn our way into heaven. This is good news we can apply to our lives right now.
Living Out the Word of God
You can learn more about Juneteenth and its importance to the Black community by clicking here.
In many ways our African American brothers and sisters are asking the broader Church to reflect on how unseen systems might still be holding people of color down. This week as we approach Juneteenth, would you pray with me for these fellow believers who are particularly hurting and join them in working toward a more just world?
Would you also pray for ways the Lord wants you to apply His freedom to your life: freedom from sinful habits, attitudes and actions. Know that you are already free in Christ!
Help me, God, to live each day knowing that You will judge my life according to Christ’s righteousness in me, not my own record of good or bad. Holy Spirit, keep reminding me that I’m free to serve You with generosity towards others, sharing kindness in word and deed. Amen.