One Man that Every Christian should know about

January 30 2007

Tomorrow night I will be doing a message about a guy that, unfortunately, a lot of people don't know much about.  His name was William Wilberforce.  He was a member of parliament in England who lived from 1759-1833.

I think he is important because I know so many Christians who don't want their faith to just be a private thing that makes them feel good.  They want to make their faith count for making a difference in the world around them.

Wilberforce was just that kind of Christian.  Converted at the age of 25, he basically spent the first 25 years of his life as a spoiled rich kid who enjoyed partying and living a life of popularity and ease.  However, when he gave his life to Christ it radically transformed him and ending up transforming England as well.  About a year after his conversion, the Lord inspired him to work for the rest of his life on two great causes:  The abolition of slavery and the reforming of morals in England.

How did God use him?  The slave trade was outlawed in England in 1807 (57 years before it happened here in America).  Slavery itself was outlawed in England in 1833 (30 years before it happened here!!).  Also, dozens and dozens of laws were enacted through his influence that banned child abuse, cruelty to animals, inhumane child labor, dishonest business practices, and many other horrible practices that had turned England into a moral cesspool.

Lastly, through his book, Real Christianity, thousands of people would be converted to Christianity and many other believers would radically change the way they lived out their faith.  Revival sparked all over England in the 1800's.

Despite Wilberforce's success, it was not easy.  He was hated by Christians and non-Christians for challenging the status quo.  His bills to abolish the slave trade was voted down 11 times over a 20 year period.

I think we can learn a lot from Wilberforce in an age where so many Christians have opted to compromise on true biblical theology in order to engage the world.  His life also speaks to Christians who have dis-engaged from the world because of a judgmental attitude towards an unbelieving culture or out of the belief that one will have to compromise true biblical theology to engage the world.

I have heard a number of Christians over the years say something like- "We need to stop being so concerned about theology and start reaching the world for Jesus!"  Wilberforce would agree with the second part of that statement, but he would have strongly disagreed with the first part.  He believed that most Christians had no impact on the world because of their neglect of the Bible and concern for who God truly is as He is revealed in scripture.  

I hope that all of you in the world of Diversion youth will come out and learn about the great man of God tomorrow night.  If you can't be there, you can listen to the message on I-tunes.  Just go to I-tunes and do a search for "Diversion Youth."  The message will be available this Sunday.  God bless . . .