Two celebrations occur simultaneously in the month of February. It is Black History Month, and on the 14th, Valentine’s Day.  To converge the two without diminishing the significance of either is, in fact, a challenge at best. Reflecting on African American History includes the strides and struggles of a people that were once enslaved but seeking freedom.

 “Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. (6) Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters — that you may be increased there, and not diminished. (7) And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Jeremiah 29:5-7

To those us who love and belong to the Lord, our citizenship is in Heaven, even though we occupy the territory on which we were brought. To love and pray for the land demonstrates a living witness of God’s redeeming love, which also requires releasing grievances against the sins of former generations and extending grace to their children. Love conquers hatred and covers a multitude of sins, and it is the freedom experienced within a loving heart that provides true freedom. “If the Son has makes you free, you are free indeed!”  (John 8:36) Through Jesus, we have the freedom to express life, overcome crippling effects of the past, and build a bright and glorious future. The “old waste places” referenced in Isaiah 4:12 are not merely a physical building, but include systems, institutions, and political structures that perpetuate the ills of the past. We are to demonstrate a different kingdom because we serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords. True love was demonstrated through the giving of Jesus, the Son of God. Every God-ordained institution, inclusive of Holy matrimony, is to be affected by the precious Gift of His love. Any other expression, regardless of what society may feel, is an accommodation that expresses animosity and hatred towards the origin from which true love generates. To build and to dwell at peace in America requires pursuing and attaining peace with God and one another.      

Marriage, family, patriotism, and all other commitments requiring loyalty must be anchored in truth. Jesus came to give full expression of His Father in Heaven. He proclaimed that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. None can come to the Father except through Him. No true and lasting peace can be attained apart from the Prince of Peace. May this month be approached with an intention on attaining both liberty and love, and may that love extend beyond the narrow views of personal preferences to a fulfilling and lasting lifestyle. “Indeed” expresses the extremities of freedom opposed to the façade that exists only in appearance. Be free indeed!