Olaudah Equiano (1745 – 1796) was only 11 years old when he was abducted and sold into slavery. He made the harrowing journey from his homeland in West Africa to the West Indies. He eventually ended up in England.
Some how, by the age of twenty he had purchased his own freedom; but by no means free of the emotional and physical scars of the treatment he had experienced over the nine years.
He became involved in the movement to abolish the slave trade in England. He met up, in 1782, with William Wilberforce, William Pitt, John Newton, and, with others formed a formidable group.
Wilberforce who eventually had the Bill passed in Parliament in 1807; Pitt who became Prime Minister and John Newton who wrote the words to Amazing Grace.
The Spirit was very active in these men, particularly Wilberforce because he was thinking of becoming a Minister in the Church of England but his friends encouraged him to continue in his work of abolition as that was God’s work for him.
We wouldn’t doubt that God would be encouraging William in his work, as God, in Jesus, wanted people to be free.
Jesus died that we would be free from the bonds of sin and free to enter into eternal life. He wanted people to turn away from sin whatever was enslaving them, so they could be free. Many times Jesus uses the word ‘slave’ to talk about sin.
He would make comments, “go and sin no more”, “unbind him, let him go free”, “your faith has set you free”, “the Truth has set you free”.
God’s greatest gift to us was free will and he doesn’t want it compromised. He wants us to be free to love him and give him glory and praise. He healed people in their sickness such as leprosy or blindness because they were not free. He wants us to be in control of our lives not be dominated, driven or enslaved by our sinful ways.
When Jesus came, He fought a battle for all of us who are enslaved and unable to fight for ourselves. Our slavery is not one of outward chains. We are held by our own brokenness and sin. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
So, we have this responsibility to set ourselves free but what about others? Are we guilty of putting the shackles on people around us? We could do this by dominating their lives; leading them into our bad habits; what pressures and demands do we inflict on others?
Jesus says what do you inflict on others then don’t lift a finger to ease their burden?
Freedom is a wonderful blessing and we are blessed to enjoy it in Australia. We should never jeopardize it in any form whatsoever, on ourselves, or others.
We can applaud William Wilberforce for what he achieved in the abolition of the slave trade in England but could he challenge us in some aspects of our lives?
We all need Amazing Grace working in our lives.
Fr Michael G Morley