“William Wilberforce, an evangelical Christian in eighteenth-century England, dedicated his life to abolishing slavery. In 1780, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament. After an experience of spiritual rebirth, Wilberforce began to see his life’s purpose: to use his political life in the service of God. He believed there was no evil greater than the institution of slavery. ‘Let the consequences be what they would,’ he wrote. “I from this time determined that I would never rest until I had effected its abolition.’ In 1798, he began his campaign: speaking, circulating flyers and petitions, and introducing bills in Parliament. In 1806, Wilberforce managed to get a bill in Parliament passed that prohibited slavery in all British colonies. By the time Wilberforce died in 1833, Parliament had finally passed a bill that would free all slaves throughout the British empire.”
Have you ever wondered what your purpose in life might be? Is it really to simply amass great wealth, or to seek luxury and ease, or to pander to your own wants and desires? Or, might our purpose be much larger and consume our lives?
When we look at the world, the state its in, what troubles its having, do we hear a calling, is a purpose bubbling to the surface for us? When we look, we see there’s gun violence, safety in our schools, racial justice and equity, homelessness, hunger, poverty, lack of health care. There is no lack of evils and life-debilitating and life-ending causes that call for persons who recognize a purpose beyond the care and comfort of themselves. William Wilberforce wasn’t a slave. William Wilberforce didn’t have to spend his life working on solving an issue that didn’t affect him in his person. Yet, something touched him deep inside and called forth purpose from his inner being. It lit a fire in William that would not die out until his goal was achieved, indeed, his whole life was placed into service of the purpose he felt called to.
I think maybe, God has a plan and a purpose for you and me also. What touches you? What is it you see that can be aided by your voice, your actions, your willingness to be used so that this world is a better place because you passed this way?
“A few words from William Wilberforce: “Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal that is slavery from the load of guilt under which we at present labor, and until we have extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic which our posterity will scarcely believe had been suffered to exist so long, a disgrace and dishonor to our country.”
Can you hear the passion in William’s words? Can you imagine one person making the purpose of their life to win freedom for others? The struggle is no less real today my friends. There are evils around us that seem insurmountable, and they are unless someone makes the demise of those evils their purpose in life. We shake our heads at the things we hear going on around us, but maybe its time to shake our fists and say “no more!” Maybe its time we seek and find our purpose, one that makes this world a better place for all people.
O God, stir our hearts that we might have the holy boldness to struggle for justice until we die. Give us visions larger than those we create for ourselves. And root us in humility, Lord, that we might climb toward your heights through service to others and ultimately to you. Amen.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,