Just a few days ago, The Bahamas celebrated Emancipation Day, a day where the freedom of the enslaved in The Bahamas is celebrated. Emancipation from slavery is such an important event where a long-entrenched evil was eviscerated and the enslaved, primarily from Africa, who were transported around the world and severely abused, were no longer oppressed. The official proclamation of emancipation provided a basic level of freedom, but true freedom, even after hundreds of years, is still not a full reality.
I am reminded of a book written by the late Dr. Myles Munroe, titled, “Burden of Freedom”, which aptly describes what has happened to freed slaves around the world. In the book, Munroe quoted a scripture that says, “Woe to a nation when a slave becomes king.” He noted that freedom from oppression does not necessarily make one truly free because – if one is not free on the inside – a pronouncement of freedom does not produce fruit for those who live under the leadership of such leaders. Leaders who have been freed on paper but not freed in their minds and thinking tend to perpetuate what they were freed from. The freed slave becomes the oppressor who repeats the actions of the previous oppressor.
We are thankful and grateful that the British in our case came to the appropriate realization and perhaps reluctantly agreed that they were perpetrating a flawed philosophy that was most abominable and offensive. The pronouncement of freedom and equality does not mean that the recipient has become free indeed. Legal freedom on paper does not mean true freedom has been embraced. True freedom is an internal reality that shows up externally. Mental and spiritual slavery is worse than physical slavery. There are many people who are in physical positions of slavery or incarceration but are really free because they have been freed in their minds before physical freedom takes place. Nelson Mandela was a free man long before he was released from prison.
When you are truly free, you see beyond the physical into the spirit realm looking beyond the people to the system and spirit behind them. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” They knew what they were doing but they did not know what they were doing. They thought they were perpetrating one thing but Jesus saw in the spirit realm and noted that he could not hold anything against them because they were unaware of the spirit behind their actions.
The worst slavery of all is slavery to sin. Sin has a blinding effect where you are doing things and not realizing that you are a pawn and a slave. This is why people become alcoholics and drug addicts. Common sense says the road they are on will lead to destruction but even though they see their potential and almost certain destruction, they persist. This is when you are a slave to sin. You know it will kill you but you are addicted, so you keep doing it even to the point of denial. How many times have you heard a drug addict or alcoholic say “I am not addicted; I can stop when I want to”?
I am thankful Jesus came along to free us from this dilemma. Jesus said, “Who the son sets free is free indeed.” What was he saying? He was saying that if you are free from the bondage of sin, it is the ultimate freedom. If you have been set free from a physical prison or physical oppression, and slavery is great, until you are free from the bondage of sin, you are never truly free. I remember the day when my chains fell off and a new life started for me. The son is who set me free and I became free indeed and never went back to my former lifestyle. I experienced emancipation from slavery and sin at the same time.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.