In 1775, Patrick Henry penned and spoke his famous line, “Give me Liberty or give me death.” This has become one of the rallying cries of our Republic and a call to freedom.
Recently, like many others, I went to watch the movie “Black Panther.” It’s an awesome movie and I’m not going to give any spoilers. However, there is one scene where the antagonist, “Killmonger,” played by Michael B. Jordan says, “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.”
I want to focus on one of my favorite passages of Scripture — along with these two quotes.
(2 Corinthians 3:17) Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom].
A brief anecdote — when I began to heed my call into ministry, this was one of the verses that I memorized and took to heart. Not long after, I learned that it is inscribed on Detroit’s City-County building — behind the statue of the Spirit of Detroit. Little did I know that this verse would also change my life.
Now, I’m going to start with something controversial — the only good slave is a dead slave. Because a man that doesn’t recognize his God-given freedom is no better than dead. And a slave, while alive, is only good for making more slaves and keeping the institution alive.
The awesome thing about this seemingly offensive statement I just made is that, in Christ, you died. That’s right, the old you — the slave you — is dead and gone. And if you’re not in Christ, I’m going to tell you to drop dead, too — so you can be resurrected in freedom!
There are two types of people who are opposed to freedom — masters and slaves. Slaves are opposed to freedom because they don’t know what it means to be free. And they are not just held by chains but they are held by fear. They are afraid of what will happen to them if they try to attain freedom and they are fearful of the responsibilities of freedom.
Sound familiar? It should. Because that’s what religion strives to do to you.
Masters are opposed to freedom for several reasons. One is that they have a material interest in either keeping slaves. These are the people who profit from making merchandise out of people or benefit from free labor. When Jesus drove the moneychangers from the temple, He wasn’t cleansing out the “sinners;” He was rebuking the merchants who held the people in financial bondage.
Two, they uphold the institution. Those who uphold the institution are reminded that they are not like the slaves by the masters — and given the hope that perhaps, one day, they can have slaves of their own.
The last group is the worst. They either trade in slaves or uphold the institution because they simply enjoy tormenting others. This group deny others pleasure and, ostensibly, take the moral high-ground, hiding behind religion.
Frederick Douglass once said that “Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.” This is why the teaching of God’s unconditional Love and unlimited Grace offends legalism and religion. Because it reveals God’s creative intent — to have children as free and creative and as loving as Himself.
This is why our core Scripture and the quotes by Patrick Henry and the Killmonger character so resonate with me — because I understand, now, that I’m created to be free. I’m not merely set free — because that would subject me to conditions of freedom — I’m MADE free! My freedom is not derived from any conditions, I was BORN free!
See, I have many friends who are immigrants. All of them are here with the hope of a better life. Some of them have become citizens. But their presence in this country are subject to conditions and, if the prevailing conditions change, they can be removed from this country. Me, on the other hand, I was born here. Even though some of my ancestors came here as slaves, I have all the same rights codified by the Constitution as anyone else. When they came to America, they were SET free — I was born here, so I am MADE free.
That’s why I’m blessed to say I DIED. Because I was a slave and that was all I was fit to do. I wasn’t created to be a slave but as a slave I was the walking dead — a spiritual zombie. But I died with Christ, and like Him — and like a seed planted into the ground — I sprang forth.
A New Creature. Something that never existed before!
And because the Spirit of the Lord dwells in me, I have Liberty inside my DNA! And while I’m here, let me say that if there is no liberty present, neither is the Spirit of the Lord. I urge you to consider this truth when you choose a place of worship or fellowship!
If you are under rules and regulations, you are a slave.
If you are afraid of your own thoughts and words, you are a slave.
If you are afraid to move or be, you are a slave.
If you are in any form of bondage, you are a slave.
But, thanks be to God for sending His son to make us free!
@2018 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)