Abolitionist William Still
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13)
This month, like many of us, I have had a more concentrated focus on black history. I’ve told my boys stories, read them books, and we’ve watched documentaries and other special broadcasts. The theme that is constant in each is sacrifice. In the negative way, white people and others complicit with them sacrificed the lives of African Americans so the culprits could viciously and selfishly gain materially, financially and socially. Blacks died in the inhumane conditions of the Middle Passage, slavery and Jim Crow and have experienced and continue to struggle through redlining, the very real though often unwritten practice of discrimination against blacks.
In the positive way, many, many people—blacks, whites and others—sacrificed their lives for the health, social and financial welfare and dignity of black Americans. Enslaved black mothers and fathers took punishment and went hungry and cold so their children could have a semblance of a better life than they had. People like William Still, a free black man who was a conductor of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, gave up their comfortable lives so others could be free. They wrote; they spoke; they legislated; they rallied; they marched; they sacrificed whatever was necessary, their very lives even, to fight injustices, inhumanity, so others could be free.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!—Philippians 3:3-8
So we, like Jesus Christ and our ancestors, must sacrifice our lives so others can be free. We must work for people’s physical, financial, social, political and spiritual freedom. No one should be idle but should work in the way God leads them to lead others to freedom.
Take a Risk Challenge: Who will you risk your life for this week? I’m not necessarily saying take a bullet for someone, but we can all sacrifice our lives, the way we do things, what we are comfortable with, to show our love for others. Perhaps we will arise an hour earlier so we can give a ride to someone who doesn’t have a car and normally catches the bus in this cold weather. Maybe we can skip going out to lunch and give the money we would have spent to someone in financial need. Or maybe we could stop buying things we just don’t need and buy something that we know someone else could use. There is much we can do if we decide to sacrifice our lives for others. I mentioned some above. Below are some other ways. Of course you could come up with your own and please share in the comments section the ways you have or plan to sacrifice your life to perform a radical act of love.
- Start a petition drive.
- Organize a march.
- Write letters.
- Boycott businesses.
- Post demands on social media.
- Make your home a safe haven.
My One Thousand Gifts List
My husband initiating prayer this evening when he was dog tired
Joshua saying, “This house is so much fun” after I joked with him in a playful manner
Shakara, a young woman who accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Lord and Savior, not wanting to let me go from our hug because she was so happy and felt “so much better”
For clothes that don’t wear out
Water that flows from faucets
Being safe after a plastic bowl melted in the oven
Being firm, not harsh, with Nate though he challenged me all day and didn’t take a nap
Talking with a representative at Logos about the company possibly publishing my book
Nichole Christian for being such a great friend
Nate sleeping through the night