Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)
I finally officially completed the book I wrote about previously, Amazing Grace, which tells the story of the life of William Wilberforce. I said it before, but I feel like I can’t say it enough: this man was an incredible human being. His life, so affected by what he called the “Great Change”—his awakening to a real, life-changing relationship with God—was not only completely dedicated to just treatment and equality for all his fellow man (and just and kind treatment of animals, actually) but the effectiveness of that life given to this cause was simply astounding. He was relentless, never tiring of doing the right, good thing… and the world is better for it.
In his lifetime he not only took on and defeated the African slave trade, he also saw slavery abolished altogether, Africans were emancipated and the British citizenry was brought along to view them as fellow men and women (rather than some sub-human species), and he also just in general turned the entire culture of his nation (and likely others) toward a more thoughtful, and in reality, a more Christian people.
The affect of true, life-changing “Christianity” was an interesting thread to follow throughout the narrative. In a time when religion had sullied the name of Jesus and the Kingdom of which he spoke, to the point that anything bearing his name had become completely irrelevant, Wilberforce’s life righted the ship, so to speak, and set Britain’s course for the next century or more on improving (or at least being concerned with) the plight of the oppressed around the world. One of the things he tackled following the victory he’d won for abolition was the condition of life in the British colony of India. He endeavored to bring the truth of the Gospel to that nation, educating her people, and in so doing, hoped to set them free: both spiritually, and socially… and otherwise.
It is a misunderstanding (often brought on by those who would presume to promulgate it) that Christianity is in any way the cause of suffering in our world. There are certainly those (previously mentioned) who would distort the teachings of Jesus, usually to their own gain, but sometimes just out of a sheer ignorance of the grandness of God’s grace. When properly understood, however, there is no greater “force” for change than a true understanding of the Good News that Jesus taught and lived.
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
Sadly, we under the banner of his name, too often judge the world (though even God himself through Jesus did/does not) … and end up pushing our fellow creatures away, and/or elevating ourselves above others, where we should not. The truth is, we are all the same. And when we know that truth, when we see the world in that way, and when we live in the world in that way … the world is a much, much better place.
William Wilberforce did that. And, as much as one man with such a view of his world can change and affect it for the better, he most certainly did.