Black History month is one of my favorite times of the year. As a Black person born and reared in the United States, I have not been privy, through our education system, to the history of my ancestors. Most of my Black History knowledge was gained through lessons taught in my community and my predominately-black church.
The one nugget of Black History taught year after year in my school was slavery. My teachers shared about the North Americans who went by ship to Africa, paid Africans to capture their own people and shackle them for the torturous journey to a foreign land.
Given that knowledge, I had and continue to have a hunger to know more about the accomplishments of Blacks in North America and abroad.
One of my favorite pieces of black history is the executive order by President Abraham Lincoln called the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, but the 13th Amendment formally abolishing slavery was not ratified until 1865.
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Listen! Can you hear the slaves sobbing, yelling, screaming and rejoicing? Do you see the tears running down their eyes? Look at them grabbing each other, hugging and dancing around.
The mere thought of freedom brought them unspeakable joy.
That is what it feels like to be free in Christ, to have your spiritual fetters removed and the proclamation signed in the blood of Jesus that you are no longer a slave!
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, Luke 4:18
An interesting fact about the post slavery era is that many black families chose not to leave the slave plantation. These families for fear of sustainability chose to become sharecroppers.
Sharecroppers would rent small plots of land in return for a portion of their crop, given to the landowner at the end of each year.
I find it hard to fathom the decision to stay on the plantation; continue to do the same hard labor with the only benefit being a place to stay and some food. The only difference between slavery and sharecropping was the job title and the likelihood that you would not be beaten until your flesh hung from your back.
Though I shake my head at my ancestors, I am guilty of following in their footsteps. I too choose to stay on the plantation.
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16
I would wager you are guilty as well. We know that Jesus shed his blood on Calvary for our freedom. He was wounded so that we would be woundless. He was hung in our place. Yet, we forget Gethsemane.
We constantly return to the slave quarters, unpack our bags and report to duty. Satan the slave master has been enticing us with his bag of carrots and we have been caught in his trap.
When I intentionally march to the beat of satan’s drum, I am doing just that. Volunteering for slavery. Obeying the laws of sin show evidence of my enlistment.
Can you see yourself, sitting on the porch of that old shack, going back and forth in the rocking chair at the end of a long laborious day? Can you feel the sweat dripping down your brow and running down your back? Do you sense the humiliation of working dawn to dust without pay?
Stop living like one.
Obeying the laws of sin is like slipping on the shackles of slavery after the Emancipation Proclamation has been declared.
We are free!
Jesus has paid the price for our freedom papers and God has written the proclamation. We do not need to submit to satan’s commands any more.
Stand up my sister! Stop doing that backbreaking work without pay. There are benefits in God’s kingdom.
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23
I am Free! In Christ, we are Free!
Let us shed the rags that satan had us wearing and put on the garments of a free woman. It’s our right. There are no chains holding us.
I am free
Praise the Lord, I’m free
No longer bound
No more chains holding me
Soul is resting
And it’s just another blessing
Praise… the Lord
Hallelujah, I’m free
(I am Free, Rev. Milton Brunson & Thompson Community Choir)