“I prayed for freedom for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” Frederick Douglass
Over 2000 years ago, the Savior of the world fulfilled the greatest demonstration of love humanity will ever know. For the sake of the world being liberated from enslavement to sin, Christ died, that we might be free. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Christ’s obedience to the will of His Father, exhibited a faith willing to go beyond humanity’s unworthiness, willing to subjugate His power, and willing to exercise humility unto death on the Cross. He did it all out of love for us – and His desire for us to be free.
As we look at this heroic message of the gospel during this month that has been set aside as Black History Month, we are reminded of all those who have prayed and labored on behalf of the Gospel, and the liberty that Jesus came to bring. That liberty comes at a high cost. Bondage and slavery, a definitive part of the biblical narrative and our American history, signifies an arduous, prayer-filled journey toward both spiritual and physical freedom for all people, but more specifically African Americans.
Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave turned activist, author, abolitionist and public speaker, prayed. Born ‘Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey’ in 1818 as a slave, he never actually knew his exact date of birth. At just six years old, he was taken away from his family and sent to work on a Maryland plantation. While enslaved, he taught himself to read and write, and taught other slaves to do the same using the Bible. When it was discovered that he was educating other slaves, he was relocated to another plantation, enduring countless whippings. He penned five autobiographies having minimal formal education. In 1838, Douglass escaped slavery, fleeing to the New York safe house of abolitionist David Ruggles.
Like Frederick Douglass, African American Christians throughout history have walked purposefully and boldly, living out God’s call to have a faith that moves into good works. Without a willingness to pray unceasingly, to write passionately and to belt songs of worship to the true and living God, the abolishment of slavery may not have been realized. From Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, to more recent leaders like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, we see lives totally surrendered for the grander kingdom vision to see liberation for the oppressed and God worshiped by all peoples, even if it cost their lives.
Hebrews 12 takes us to an account of the great cloud of witnesses, and encourages us to run our race with endurance, because the founder and perfecter of our faith, fuels our faith and eternal perspective to the finish line. The heart of Douglass’s prayers put his faith into action; giving him the boldness to contend for freedom. His life represented an invitation to participate with God in His redemptive work among people of color, liberating them to live, work and worship freely.
The church has the privilege to join God in a lifestyle that embodies what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus. God teaches us to pray, commands us to love and He commissions us to go and make disciples. This is the prayer, care, share lifestyle every believer is called to live. Douglass lived this, even as a suffering slave, he gave the world a transformational example of love that reached far beyond himself.
In March, United in Love will give you the opportunity to join in this same work of being God’s hands and feet in our nation, the world and the church by living out a prayer, care, share lifestyle together.
We are preparing for a movement that will place us all at the foot of the Cross, equal with one another as image bearers of God, simply seeking to live out the full embodiment of Christ’s calling of His bride. Would you begin praying about what specific seven mountain sphere and issue burdens your heart? Let’s prepare to be activated to live on mission toward those who need to see Christ’s love most. May God be magnified as we learn from our past, honor God in our present and commit to God the very coming kingdom awaiting us for the future!
Let’s pray together.
Lord, we are grateful that you are a God of love, life and liberty! Thank you for the many godly examples throughout scripture and throughout history of brothers and sisters who followed the model of Christ to spend time being molded by the Spirit in prayer, caring for others, and sharing the good news of the gospel to all people. Move us into obedience into Jesus’s command to be united in our love for one another and to answer His prayer for us to join You in bringing Your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus name, amen.