He who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves. Abraham Lincoln, letter of April 6, 1859.
It is not enough for us to agree to “have no slave”. Our call to seek freedom for the oppressed is much greater than that.
[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21.)
This is one of the reasons I wrote the post about a pastor who defended American slavery as good for the people enslaved. First, this modern American pastor never once intimated he’d be satisfied with his own family living as 19th Century slaves, and second it’s a flat-out lie on both the physical and spiritual level. Enslaving people misrepresents the gospel of freedom we have through Jesus.
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.)
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36.)
Some may argue that these passages concern spiritual freedom, and I agree. But that’s not all they concern. Jesus repeatedly showed that the physical and the spiritual are so wrapped up that what happens physically can be a sign of what is happening spiritually. (Think of the time he forgave the paralyzed man and then proved to the scoffers that his authority to forgive was real. Mark 2:1-12.) His healings brought much more than mere physical relief to people’s lives.
This is what we are called to do as well. Any Christian who defends slavery misrepresents Christ, who came to set people free. We should be seeking that freedom as well, loosing chains both physical and spiritual wherever we can.