Set Free

02/10/2011

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Samuel Weir was the first African-American minister and ordained Elder in the Church of the Brethren. He was born a Virginia slave in 1812 and sold at age 12 for $280 to Andrew McClure. When he was thirty, his master's son was thrown from a horse and killed. Shortly thereafter, Mr. and Mrs. McClure applied for membership in the Dunkard Brethren but were told that the denomination did not receive any members who owned slaves. Sammy would have to be set free in order for them to become Brethren.

Hearing of this, slave traders offered up to $1,500 for the hard-working Sammy but McClure refused. Their membership was approved and they were baptized, as was Sammy. (Sammy was received with the “right hand of fellowship” but not the kiss that traditionally accompanied it.) Sammy continued to work on the farm, but Virginia law at the time held that any freed slave found in the state one year later could be re-sold into slavery! And so the McClures gave Sammy a horse, saddle, clothes, money and everything he needed to start life anew in Ohio. Brother B.F. Moomaw told him, “Sam, you are now a free man and on free soil, where you can enjoy your freedom as all other free men.” The rest is history.*

Can you imagine what it would feel like to start life anew after being a slave? Your identity changes in an instant and life—while not necessarily easy—holds promises about which you had never dared to dream.

Our scripture text tells us that our lives can be just like Sammy's. Once a slave to sin, we can become a “new person” and begin a new life. Just like that. “That sounds too good to be true,” you might say. “Life just doesn't work that way.”

Truth it, that's exactly how it's supposed to work. God planned it that way. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. --Jeremiah 29:11. It's the world that tells you this is nonsense, not the Christ whose sacrifice made your freedom possible. The world stalks the new Christian like a slave-trader, seeking to reaffix the old, rusty shackles. If you're feeling this tug, I've got some advice for you: Resist! Run! Fight back with scripture and the confidence of a spirit submitted to God. Don't hold out your hands feebly and punch your own ticket back to the cotton field!

When Andrew McClure set Sammy Weir free, he set himself free, too—free to follow God while being loved and supported by a community of faith. Angels rejoiced in Heaven on the day you received your pardon. And they are waiting for God to issue another one. Could you help that process along in any way? Ask!

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*Lehman, James: The Old Brethren. The Brethren Press, Elgin, IL

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There are 3 comments

I loved the history lesson, and the truths that you brought out to us, Kent. Thanks.

Deb
February 12, 2011 - 21:29

These are truly a joy to write. Thanks for your comment!

kent
February 11, 2011 - 16:42

Good one, Pastor Kent! I really like..."The world stalks the new Christian like a slave-trader..." Thanks for another nutritious RCT.

Shawn
February 11, 2011 - 16:12
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