Read |2 Corinthians 5: 18 - 21; Matthew 5: 14 - 16|
Approximately two centuries after the first slave ships disembarked on the shores of North America, a generation of people who had no memory of freedom populated the plantations of the United States of America. All that was known to them were the sufferings endured by a life under constant pressure, in a system that attempted to naturalize the state of slavery from womb to grave. Yet the protest of their souls provided witness that there was in fact more to be desired--a freedom imagined, if not ever experienced by them or any living relative. And from this inner wrestling and imagined freedom came the necessary invention of the runaway.
Many took flight. Many were caught. Many lost their lives. However, some were successful. One ex-slave in particular, makes her indelible mark on history, not because she survived the travails of the Underground railroad to secure a life of freedom, but because she gave up a life of potential ease to become a plea, and an aid in rescue, to those who were still in bondage. Her name was Harriet Tubman. It is reported that she successfully persuaded and aided over 300 people to freedom. Rightly, there is to her tribute, a statue of her at the intersection of W 122nd Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, created by Alison Saar.
Walking home at night, I was struck by Saar's representation of Harriet Tubman. Harriet is portrayed in robust bronze, with a sturdy frame, seemingly tethered by roots, emanating from her lower body, to a large rock base. She appears anchored and at the same time in determined motion--southbound. And while Saar no doubt had her own purposes in mind when fashioning her, as I stood examining the work God began to illuminate for me a connection between our rootedness in our God given identities and living on mission. No longer was Harriet merely tethered to a rock, but she was anchored to the Rock from which she derived her value, identity and purpose. Her weddedness to the weighty rock was not something to be overcome, but the sure place from which she was able to draw courage and power to return into dark, dank and dangerous spaces as a plea--a living witness to those ensnared in slavery, that freedom was for them too.
Like Harriet, God calls us to be a plea to those, not in the bondage of American slavery, but to sin. He calls us to be a living witness declaring that true freedom is only found in Jesus Christ and that the accomplished work of the cross is for them too. He calls us to declare through our lived example, "Be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5: 18 & 20, AMP). Again he commands, "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5: 16, AMP).
We are His plea and we make this plea through our lived example of good deeds and moral excellence. But, how do we enter into these good deeds and exhibit this kind of moral excellence? What is the means of our call to action? It is God, from beginning to end. God who has freed us from the penalty of sin, calls us to be liberated from the power of sin in our lives through obedience to His Spirit. It is in this following after Him that we come to live a life that brings glory to the Father--that we come to live a life full of the light of Jesus Christ. (John 8: 12). It is the light of Jesus Christ that draws people to be reconciled to God. It is our hearts prostrate before Him that allows us to be a conduit of His light.
Beloved, the only way to live in the truth of our identity as His plea, is to live a life of worship. We often confuse worship with its expressions, e.g. singing, dancing, praising. But, worship is the lived expression of a heart prostrate before God because it knows His worth. We who have been redeemed by His blood know more intimately, than the rest of groaning creation, the value of God. We are made alive to Him. We are able to see His glory in the Son, and are not blind to its display in all of creation. We see. We see! Let us not see without comprehending. And let our comprehending lead us to wisdom, i.e. allowing the true knowledge of our God to direct us, by His Spirit, in living a life of glory and honor to Him.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.