It is for freedom that Christ has set you free! Galatians 5:1
On this Flag Day, we are in the midst of a national debate regarding the meaning and significance of our great American flag. Does it truly stand for freedom? For equality? Justice for all?
I recently read Having Our Say, The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years, an amazing autobiography of Bessie and Sadie Delaney, two African American sisters who lived to be 104 and 109 years old, respectively. Their father was born into slavery and freed by the Emancipation Proclamation at seven years of age. He and his wife married and raised 10 children through extremely difficult years of newfound freedom and the ugliness of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Bessie and Sadie share many personal stories of the shameful oppression they faced, despite living in a nation that proclaimed freedom and unalienable rights endowed by our Creator.
Nonetheless, the Delaney family’s identity was rooted in Christ Jesus. They understood their God-given worth and value that no man could take from them. Bessie and Sadie’s father became the administrator of St. Augustine’s College and nation’s first elected black Episcopal bishop. Bessie obtained a dentistry degree from Columbia University and became the second black woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York. Sadie obtained a Master’s Degree from Columbia and became the first black woman to teach home economics in a New York City high school. Other siblings similarly overcame huge obstacles to become a doctor, dentist, and U.S. district attorney.
Despite achieving unheard of success for an African-American family during a dark era of our nation’s history, the Delaney sisters still struggled under the weight of discrimination and inequality. At one point, Bessie writes:
All I ever wanted in my life was to be treated as an individual. I have succeeded, to some extent. At least I’m sure that in the Lord’s eyes, I am an individual. I am not a “colored” person, or a “Negro” person, in God’s eyes. I am just me! The Lord won’t hold it against me that I’m colored because He made me that way! He thinks I am beautiful! And so do I, even with all my wrinkles! I am beautiful! (Having Our Say, p. 186)
Still today, many people around the world live under the weight of slavery, discrimination and oppression. But in Galatians, Paul tells us that in Christ Jesus, we are all children of God through faith. There is no Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female. We are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:58)
While we celebrate the freedoms we are afforded in the United States, and how far we have come from a time of slavery and segregation, there always will be challenges to overcome in changing the hearts and minds of sinful man. But praise God our freedom is not given to us by man! God is the only one who can offer us true freedom. The Bible proclaims: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery! (Galatians 5:1) Christ Jesus has set us free. Free from our sin, free from our past, free from our circumstances, free from the weight of judgment of others. We are free in Christ Jesus indeed.
The sisterhood of WOW longs to make this freedom in Christ Jesus known to the poor and oppressed everywhere—both here locally and throughout the world. As Paul writes to his Christian brothers and sisters: You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love. (Galatians 5:13) Thank you for partnering with WOW to proclaim freedom and humbly serve others in love. We treasure every prayer, journal purchase, purse donation, “like” on Facebook, attendance at an event, and many other ways of support and encouragement. May it all be for God’s glory!
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
-- Ashley Manfull, © June 2018