Duration: 365 days
Today’s Bible Reading: Ephesians 2:1–10
Juneteenth, an unusual holiday started in Texas, is now celebrated each June 19 across the country. This holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when Gordon Granger, a Union general, rode into Galveston, Texas, and announced that slavery had ended. Reaction among the newly freed slaves ranged from shock to jubilant celebration. Imagine living your whole life as a slave and learning for the first time that you’re free.
However, there’s more to this story. General Granger announced the news in Texas on June 19, 1865. But the slaves had actually gained their freedom when President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day in 1863. In other words, the slaves in Texas had been free for more than two and a half years, but they hadn’t known it. They had continued living as slaves, unaware that the nation had abolished the institution of slavery.
Paul reminds us that we once lived in bondage to sin. In fact, we weren’t just enslaved to sin—it had such a stranglehold on us that we were spiritually dead. But because of the work of Christ, we now experience freedom from sin and the joy of vibrant life in him: “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead” (verses 4–5).
Sometimes it’s difficult to convince people that they need to be saved from something they can’t see. That’s why we need to be aware of all that God has done for us. One mark of Christians is that we’re intimately aware of what we would have become and where we would have ended up had God not intervened. We understand that although we don’t deserve it, God loves us anyway. Certainly, this should produce joy in us.
But another response should also overflow from our hearts—the impetus for change. Sadly, many of us continue to live as though we’re still enslaved to sin, even though God has given us access to a new quality of life. We find it hard to imagine a slave receiving freedom but not living differently. So why should we receive life, yet still live as though we are dead?
How does God want us to live? The proper response to God’s gift of freedom is to live jubilantly and thankfully, as people set free.
To Take Away
- Are you alive in Christ? In what ways does your life support your answer?
- How would you respond to someone who asked, “What does it mean to be dead to sin and alive to Christ?”
- Can you think of ways in which you continue living like a slave to sin, even though you know intellectually that Christ has set you free? What steps can you take to experience a more practical manifestation of your freedom from sin?
Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan.