Happy Juneteenth! Juneteenth is the annual holiday which commemorates the day of June 19, 1865 when the news of emancipation reached people in the Galveston, Texas area. Sadly, this day came almost two and a half years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
One of the verses I reflect on when I think of Juneteenth is found in Galatians 3:28. In this chapter Paul exhorts the church to live by faith. He exhorts the church to not trust in their own good works, but to trust in the grace of Christ. Paul then wraps up the chapter with these inspired words of scripture:
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
In Paul’s time these words displayed a concept that many of the church were not demonstrating in their lives. Many of the Galatian Christians still wanted to observe a dividing line between those Christians of Jewish heritage and Christians of any other heritage – often referred to as Greeks or Gentiles. Paul reminds the church that God does not see one person or one group or one category of people as better than or more valuable than any other. Every person has been created in the image of God. And God loves every person; He loves them so much He sent His Son to die for them. Christ died for all and Christ offers forgiveness to everyone! God is no respecter of persons. Someday in heaven, praises will be offered to God by people of “every nation, every tribe, and every language (Revelation 7:9).”
What a glorious scene! All types and kinds of people worshiping the Lord together in unity and harmony. What a beautiful picture! Sadly, it’s not the picture today. For that reason, Paul’s exhortation to the church is just as relevant now as it was then. Each of us, whatever group we may identify with, need to see other people as being valuable individuals, created in the image of God. We need to treat everyone with dignity and respect. We need to listen to one another, help one another and work together to address the distinctions, the dividing lines and the disparate treatment that some people groups still experience today. Church, we should make it our goal to work together, to love others and let the Lord lead us and guide us so that we can help solve some problems and begin to experience some of the unity and harmony in the “here and now” that awaits us in the hereafter.