When slavery is all you know, freedom appears as the prevailing evil.
I was born in 1971. Dr. King’s dream was dawning and the hope of racial equality had finally become a rational discussion. I was born nearly 110 years after the abolition of slavery, but it was a year still in the adolescence of true freedom for black Americans. Once freedom has been gained it becomes the responsibility of the freed people to exonerate themselves from a slave mentality and begin to explore the infinite advantages of freedom.
Retracing American history, it is inspiring to hear about great African American men and women who risked their very lives in pursuit of freedom. Great Americans like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman not only pursued and eventually won their freedom, but dedicated their lives to helping others obtain freedom and liberation from slavery.
Conversely, I am perplexed to learn of how many slaves who gained their freedom chose to never leave the farm or plantation where they had lived previously. Why would a slave who had been set free chose to live in the same drafty shack, work in the same miserable conditions and never explore the boundaries of their freedom? Many had become content with slavery and even grew to love their slave owners, some were skeptical of their supposed freedom and yet most were simply afraid that a fate much worse than slavery awaited them in the guise of freedom. So they never ventured far from where they had always been – slaves, but “free” slaves.
Many slaves of that time did not understand what freedom meant or trust where freedom could lead. This robbed them of the opportunity to taste the sweet nectar of independence or stand on the shoulders of liberty, reaching up to heights few could’ve dreamed of in those days.
The transition from slavery to freedom has proven more difficult to orchestrate than the declaration of freedom itself.
When all you know is the law, grace is a threat to your religion.
He who the son sets free is free indeed! (Jn. 8:36).
I was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit in 1987. I believed that Jesus had died for my sins and I believed every verse pertaining to God’s grace and my righteousness by faith. The problem was I did not understand grace at all.
I believed grace had saved me, but I was not comfortable venturing away from the familiar belief that God would only be pleased with me if I could stop sinning. I did not trust the liberty I had in Christ, that I had been set free from my sin and that my righteousness was not on account of anything I had done or every would do, but my righteousness was based only on the blood Jesus had shed for me and what he accomplished by dying on the cross for my sins. For a person born into slavery, freedom is a scary proposition. For a person steeped in the law, believing that grace is enough seems to threaten an entire religion.
After receiving salvation by the blood of Jesus and being born again by the spirit of God we are made free from the bondage and slavery of sin! It now becomes our responsibility to escape the mentality of slaves through the bondage of the law and walk in the glorious liberty of sons of God through grace! This process is called the renewing of our minds. It is perplexing to me now how anyone could insist on walking in the guilt and condemnation of sin that they have already been forgiven of and permanently set free. Grace does not lead you into sin, but it does deliver you from the penalty, the shame and the guilt of sin. Grace makes you free to dance!
The transition from law to grace has proven to be difficult for the individual and the body of Christ as a whole. The revelation of grace brings freedom and freedom can seem sketchy to the slave mentality. Freedom destroys the power of sin by disarming the enemy and defeating his accusations against you. You are able to live a life without guilt or shame as the righteous son or daughter of God, not because you are good enough, but because Christ is good enough in you. The exploration of your new-found freedom will not lead you back into sin, but will lead you into the loving arms of the father. God’s love for you will saturate your heart and overflow into the lives of others. The same love that set you free will free others and you will in turn become a powerful abolitionist, helping others to board the freedom train of Christ.