Last week Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that, “for the first time in more than a century, the front of our currency will feature the portrait of a woman, Harriet Tubman, on the $20 note.” He later told reporters, “Her incredible story of courage and commitment to equality embody the ideals of democracy that our nation celebrates, and we’ll continue to value her legacy by honoring her on our currency.”
Of course, like everything in our time, this decision has stirred up controversy. So how should those of us who love God’s kingdom and who are working to see the church live out the diversity of the kingdom today, feel about this?
Well, I am pretty happy and this is why.
One. While people are divided, they are not divided in the usual ways. I read stories on both Politico and National Review, two sites representing opposite ends of the political establishment, both praising the move to have Harriet Tubman on the $20. This means, Harriet has accomplished something almost impossible these days, she’s brought Republicans and Democrats together. Perhaps because she is from a time when a small minority of people chose to do what was right, not what was expedient?
What a challenge she is to all of us and what an encouragement for believers today to choose not the “lesser of evils” but the good.
That leads me to reason number two. Harriet Tubman was a real person, who made real choices (tough ones) in terribly challenging times. She could have escaped slavery and then hidden herself away living in whatever comfort and security she could find. But instead she chose to put her personal safety and comfort aside for the freedom of others. She did this her whole life. She lived a life of dedication to those in any form of bondage. Wow, this is something to emulate!
As a Christian, I am ecstatic to have a true follower of Christ on our currency. The history of our country is tainted by many who professed faith, but did not live it. How great for those of us attempting to represent our Lord accurately in our time to have someone like Tubman to look back on. “Tubman said she would listen carefully to the voice of God as she led slaves north, and she would only go where she felt God was leading her” (Christianity Today). We are in no less need for God’s divine direction today.
As an advocate for diversity in the church, I am thrilled to have an African American on our currency. African Americans helped build this country, though their contributions are rarely recognized. For any believer that would allow their political persuasion to criticize this decision, let these words be a challenge to you:
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
This past week one part of our national body has been honored and we should all rejoice!
As a woman, I am overjoyed to have Harriet Tubman representing me, not for her looks, that have been disparaged, (see “To the People Saying Harriet Tubman is ‘Too Ugly’ to Appear on the $20 Bill: Have Several Seats”) but for her actions. Yes! I am pretty sure that when I stand before the Lord to give an account and the books of “what I have done” are opened before him and all of my works are tested by fire (1 Corinthians 3:12) he will or will not declare “well done thy good and faithful servant" based upon my outward appearance in this life, but on how faithful I was to him.
Many have disapproved this decision calling it pure political correctness. Perhaps it is. Perhaps those who made the decision do not share my reasons. That’s ok. Like Paul before me, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” I know we are not talking about the preaching of the gospel here, but you get my meaning.