Wilberforce 2

To continue the story of William Wilberforce from the previous post, William felt that God called him to suppress the Slave Trade and to reform the country.

On the first point, William and other deeply committed Christians fought tirelessly to end the slave trade and to free the slaves within the British Empire.  Against the tide of big businesses, status quo politicians, and the nominally Christian culture of Great Britain, William and his allies stood in the gap for the voiceless and prophetically called out against the outrageous evil of African slavery.

On the Second Objective, William  believed all of Great Britain had broken down and needed reform.  He found that there was a blatant disregard in British society about the intrinsic worth of a human being.  He believed that all humans were created in God’s image, which therefore meant all are intrinsically worthy of dignity.  This unbiblical view, in Williams’ mind, led to every kind of evil.  While slavery was the most horrific, other evils ran rampant in society at that time.  Poor children were forced into labor as early as 5 years old for 10-24 hour days!  Alcoholism was rampant (MPs were frequently drunk in sessions) and sexual trafficking soared as a result of alcoholism (25% of single women in London were prostitutes, with the average age being 16).  Extreme animal cruelty and public hangings were provided for the perpetually plastered crowd and prisons were in utterly nightmarish conditions.  

Simply put, society used and abused others and this realization grieved William’s heart.  However, once he realized God was love and that he loved everyone, then William saw the world differently.  By his own strength, William knew he couldn’t reform Britain on his own, instead either God needed to transform society or it could not be done.  William knew in his core that God called him to these tasks and subsequently relied on God to provide victory.

While the views of William and other evangelical Christians at the time were in stark contrast to others, William knew the culture wouldn’t change unless goodness was seen as fashionable.  He dared to dream that those with power, money, and influence would use it to help others.  Or as the saying goes, “blessed to be a blessing.”

William was the impetus for society to recover the profoundly biblical principle that the fortunate have some obligation to help those who are less fortunate.  At that time, British society held a more Eastern Karmic idea that the poor were meant to remain poor while the top stayed at the top and never shall the two meet.  The changed mindset stemming from William’s life spread throughout Western Europe and the US via the British Empire.

William was an impressive and driven man, but really you need to understand that he was not just “religious.”  He had a deep personal relationship with God that was rooted him in his causes.  He was motivated from a place of love (love of God, love of others) over and above a sense of justice or right and wrong.  He knew that the God of the universe is loving and graciously intervened in his life, so out of gratitude to God, William was slow to condemn his political opponents and quick to humility.  He worked with people who were different for a common cause and was gracious to those on the fence.  He passionately fought but was charitable to others as William lead Great Britain to better days.

William sacrificed a comfortable life to lead significant changes in Britain and the world.  The deep faith of this MP helped end slavery and reform a bankrupt society.

(Catch the rest of the series: William Wilberforce Part 1, Jackie Robinson, and John Paul II)