Today is Juneteenth. June 19, 1865 commemorates the day when the Emancipation Proclamation that declared all slaves free was announced to citizens in the state of Texas. Although the proclamation became official on January 1, 1863, it wasn’t until after the war ended that it had any real effects.
A Day of Freedom
African Americans and others celebrate Juneteenth as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day. For over a century it has stood as a reminder of our liberation from race-based chattel slavery and entrance into the mainstream of United States society. Of course we know the initial hopefulness this historical proclamation promised has been dampened by ongoing racism and disenfranchisement. Still, Juneteenth represents progress.
But followers of Jesus Christ have their own Juneteenth to celebrate. This occasion may not fall on June 19th. It doesn’t just apply to Blacks but to people of any race. And it’s an event that people from any nation, not just America, can celebrate.
A Different Kind of Freedom
Christians celebrate the cosmic Emancipation Proclamation that Christ gave on the cross when He said, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). We may not remember the precise day or hour, but when we believed that Jesus Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection took away the penalty for our rebellion and made us acceptable to God, we were freed.
We now walk in the freedom that we are forgiven and will live forever with God.
But like the liberated Black slaves, we struggle to work out our newfound freedom. We labor and strive as if we were still slaves to our old masters: sin, Satan, and death. We attempt to “be a good person” as if we still have to earn God’s acceptance. We behave as if we are still in chains even though those chains have been broken.
But if you have trusted the person and work of Jesus Christ you are no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness. Read Romans 6. This glorious chapter explains the difference between our old life of bondage and our new life of freedom.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” Romans 6:22
A Juneteenth of the Soul
Juneteenth gives all Americans a reason to celebrate a kind of freedom. But Christians have an even greater, eternal freedom through faith in Jesus Christ. We celebrate not just Juneteenth, but a Juneteenth of the soul.