Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lives to Model

I read a book by John Piper about 3 Christian men who set good examples for us all (Noel Piper has a similar book for Women).

I think I'll relate briefly the life of one of these guys, William Wilberforce. He was a British member of Parliament, and fought to end the slave trade, and then slavery, until it was abolished in 1833, three days before he died. As a young man, he was a bit of play-boy, and ran in the high social circles. His good friend, William Pitt, ran for Prime Minister at 24 and won it. Wilberforce ran for a seat as a joke, and thanks to 8000 pounds and an incredible talent for speaking, he won it. From that point on he never lost an election.

So how did he go from a play-bog politician to possibly the greatest human rights advocate in the Western world? Isaac Milner, one of his previous schoolmasters, was invited to spend a vacation with Wilberforce, and to the amazement of Wilberforce, Milner was a pretty convinced Christian. Wilberforce was intriqued because Milner didn't fall into the Christian stereotype. That summer, on another trip with Milner, Wilberforce chose to follow Christ. Now he hit a real crisis period, how was he to follow Christ? He sought help from John Newton, who had worked in the slave trade himself, but converted and was now a pastor (he wrote "Amazing Grace"). Through discourse with Newton, Wilberforce became convinced that God had given him "two great objects, the Suppression of the Slave Trade, and the Reformation of Manners [morals]."

Most people don't realize how hardcore a Christian Wilberforce was. He wrote a book, "A Practical View of Christianity," in it he lambasted British society for losing the core doctrines of Christianity - that humans a sinners, and need to take faith in the death of death of Christ for thier sins, and allow God to make the moral. He blamed this loss of true Christianity for the rise of corrupt economic practices. People forgot that the basic assumption of Christianity is that everybody committs and suffers under sin, and everybody needs to be forgiven and released from its oppression - "No one is good, not even one," Rom 3.

All that being said, I don't want to make the same mistake that Wilberforce accuses British society as making and skipping the gospel to get to moral life. If you're a pretty average moral person like me, you can't imitate great morality unless you experience a change of heart. We can't just learn what Wilberforce did, and try to make our lifestyles reflect his. We need to find the source that Wilberforce drank from. Wilberforce believed in the gospel, and did a lot to make sure he never lost sight that it is from Christ where he would derive any strength he needed. I'll let Wilberforce make this point himself,

"Lord, thou knowest that no strength, wisdom or contrivance of human power can signify, or relieve me. It is in thy power alone to deliver me. I fly to thee for sucor and support, O Lord let it come speedily; give me full proof of thy Almighty power; I am in great troubles, insurmountable by me; but to thee slight and inconsiderable; look upon me O Lord with compassion and mercy, and restore me to rest, quietness, and comfort, in the world, or in another by removing me hence [from sorrow and weakness], and into a state of peace and happiness."



At 2:59 PM, Blogger Kristen said...

Andrew, you are no average man lost in transgressions. God has blessed you with many spiritual gifts, and that of knowledge is no exception.
Is the objective to achieve a state of homostatus, comfort and peace or to toil for His glory in a state of discomfort...
Other than the obvious, Christ, Jim Elliot is a good life to model.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Matthew said...

Hi Andrew,
I didn't read that great big post, but wanted to say hi.


At 11:26 PM, Blogger Kristen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Kristen said...

now this post makes more sense to me as B4 I lacked a piece of the puzzle, maybe my constructed scheme was ignorant in this area or perhaps its just more applicable now or maybe just cause your good friend Ryan pretty much feed it to me tonight. haha
It's very inspiring and encouraging to shatter these stereotypical views and simply radiate Christ's love... yet life's very complex with its intricate moral conduct..
Where does my strength come from? The source of the living word!
i get it...enough of these psych reports already or even busyness.
it's back to the basics...the truth
i think I will get a copy of Amazing Grace...there's even an online small groups study guide. You should check it out. it may help to stimulate greater discussion within your groups, even one on one.
What stood out to me in the CT article was
"A vision of thousands of believers in the streets proclaiming their faith encouraged a young man in North Africa to persevere."
Tis possible my assertive, with gentleness.


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