Celebrating Freedom Day
Share This Devotional
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (Acts 4:32, ESV)
After Christ ascended, the Holy Spirit fell on God’s people, and the fledgling church—Christ’s Body on earth—took the first breath of new life on Pentecost. Thousands of souls immediately passed from death to life as the Gospel was preached, spreading like wildfire across Jerusalem and soon the Roman empire.
People who had been enslaved to sin and Satan for years were set free, their chains bursting by the power of God, and their first responses were worship and love. All were suddenly equal before the throne of grace, desperately drinking from the Fountain of Life. They shared everything they had because all were one in Christ.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
This promise from Scripture helps us understand God’s heart for freedom and reveals the mechanism for the amazing movement that started when He poured out His Spirit on the world. Now, people could be free in every way, free from having to serve themselves and free to love one another. And that Spirit is what first sparked the early movements in Great Britain and the United States to legally free all people from a life of slavery.
The spirit of freedom eventually led to what many called Freedom Day, also known as Juneteenth (June 19), a day that commemorates the effective end of the practice of slavery in the United States. Though the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect with the intention of freeing all slaves over two years before the time of Juneteenth 1865, some communities had ignored the proclamation. Texas was one of the last holdouts and was forced by federal forces on Juneteenth to recognize the freedom of the African American people.
When enslaved people across Texas heard the news on that day, they erupted in praise and prayer, giving thanks to God and celebrating with feasts and dancing. Many knew it was God who had granted them freedom, just as He had once heard of the Israelite’s sufferings and gone down to free them from Egypt. Suddenly, the world was one step closer to resembling the beautiful community of equality that started with the church in the book of Acts.
Today, we celebrate the Juneteenth holiday in commemoration of that emancipation day. And we remember the beginning of true freedom—when King Jesus laid His life down for us all. Because He rose from the dead, we can all be free from death and slavery to the sinful selfishness that strives to ruin our lives and communities. Sin is what causes prejudice, and only Jesus can change the human heart, but every one of us can be transformed from the inside out by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is our hope—a hope the world desperately needs today.
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
Share This Devotional