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Free In Christ

As an enslaved person, the great Abolitionist Fredrick Douglas learned that “whoever was whipped easiest was whipped most often” (Fredrick Douglas 1881, The Life and Times of Fredrick Douglas). Douglas did not just witness this in others but proved it himself. In 1834, Douglas to the “slave-breaker,” Mr. Covey. Douglas tells of the moment when he “became a man” and fought back against the scourging brought by Mr. Covey. Douglas gave as good as he received. He said, “It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery to the heaven of freedom” (Fredrick Douglas 1845, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, pg. 54). Douglas resolved that “the white man who expected to succeed in whipping, must also succeed in killing me” (Fredrick Douglas 1845, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, pg. 54). From that moment on, Douglas was never again “fairly whipped.” After that, though, he had “several fights, but was never whipped” (Fredrick Douglas 1845, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, pg. 54).

            You may be wondering what Fredrick Douglas and his lessons about being whipped have to do with you. What he says for all of us is a valuable spiritual lesson. The Apostle Paul tells us, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1 NASB). God wants us to be free. Not partially free, but completely free, and this is what Christ has done for us. Sadly, too often, we find ourselves bound by something. We get whipped entirely too quickly, and because of that, we get whipped far too often. It is not God’s will for us to be beaten and bound but to be free and victorious. We must get tired like Fredrick and fight back instead of just taking a beating.

            The Apostle Paul said, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 NASB). It is our fault if we allow ourselves to be whipped. Because we can fight back and, even better, let God fight for us. God will never lead us wrong. It is in Christ that we are free. An easy way to get into trouble is not to follow and listen to God’s direction. When we look everywhere else for the things we need, we may find ourselves beaten, exhausted, discouraged, and ready to give up. Augustine tells us, “My sin consisted in this, that I sought pleasure, sublimity, and truth not in God but in his creatures, in myself, and other created beings” (Saint Augustine, Confessions, A New Translation by Henry Chadwick). The greatest thing you and I can do is go to God, lean on Him, rest in Him, and be free in Him. A final verse from Galatians tells us, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (5:16 NASB). God desires us to be free (Gal. 5:1), and He has provided everything we need to walk in the freedom that only He can provide. Our job is to trust Him, holding onto Him no matter what.


In Christ,

Pastor Josh May


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