Thursday, May 13, 2010

What does God require of me? (1)

Micah 6:8 states: "He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."

This doesn't sound so hard, or does it?

William Wilberforce took the words 'to act justly' seriously.  A British politician in the late 1700's, he became convinced of the injustice of African slavery practiced within the British Empire and took up the task of abolishing it.  Many others joined him, responding to the call for justice; together they worked tirelessly, giving birth to the world's first grass roots human rights movement.  But ultimately it was Wilberforce's position in parliament that gave the opportunity to legislate against slavery.  His unlikely success had far-reaching influence over the entire British Empire.

At the time using and trading slaves was common and profitable business, and Britain dominated the practice.  As a result, Wilberforce's mission was both counter-cultural and formidably difficult.

What caused Wilberforce and others like him to conceive the need for such social change?  And what empowered them to think that the abolition was even possible?  His biography tells us it was his faith-- not merely faith in human ability, but faith in God who loves justice and brings about His will on earth.  In other words, Wilberforce did what he did because the King of Heaven wanted better for the citizens of Earth than did the King of England.

While we're often tempted to treat Christianity as a hot tub religion where we comfortably wait for Heaven to come, this verse stirs the water.  Hearing Christ's call, we set our minds to consider His Kingdom business in a decaying world that eagerly waits for renewal.

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