William Wilberforce has long been viewed as a hero, kingdom change-agent, and statesman-saint committed to bringing the redemptive edge to all that his life touched after his encounter with God’s amazing grace. As a reformer, philanthropist, and long-term member of the British Parliament, Wilberforce was the perfect illustration of someone being faithful to the baselines but also pioneering the gospel into territory normally improbable. And before you think he lived in an easy time of history, read again. Nothing happening in our current culture and in our businesses today is more challenging than what Wilberforce faced. For example, during his time in leadership, Britain was the mind and muscle of human trafficking (slave trade) worldwide. It was so entrenched that even people of faith had learned to turn a blind eye to it. But William Wilberforce and his band of associates refused to simply let the gospel gaps grow any deeper.
What anchored him? There is no question or debate! It was his understanding and application of the reach, power, and intent of the gospel narrative. “As he sat at his desk that foggy Sunday morning in 1787 thinking about his conversion and his calling, Wilberforce asked and answered a pivotal question. Had God saved him only to rescue his own soul from hell? He could not accept that. If Christianity was true and meaningful, it must not only save but serve.” Yes, the gospel saved his personal soul. But the gospel wasn’t only to be “consumed” by William. It was to serve all of humanity in redemption and renewal. To serve was to find the gospel gaps in his particular industry (politics and government) and convert them to gospel hot spots. William Wilberforce spent his entire adult life doing just that. Thank you, Eric Metaxas, for telling his story in Amazing Grace.
A more recent hero who unleashed the power, reach, and intent of the gospel into culture was the late Bob Briner, author of Roaring Lambs. I remember being with Bob in his home one Saturday morning discussing his passion to fill the gospel gaps in the entertainment and media industries. Bob deeply believed, “if a religion is really vital, meaningful, relevant, and important, it will make a difference not only in the individuals but also in the society itself.”
Both Wilberforce and Briner strongly believed what Colson later said, “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.” But they are not alone. I firmly believe there are gospel and work heroes in every city and every community around the world. We just don’t happen to know them. They are imbedded in mega-global companies. They own small local bakeries or insurance agencies. They have launched their own social media marketing firms and coach junior high basketball teams. They occupy all industries and sectors.
Make no mistake; every community has men and women putting the gospel to work. Those who work next to them and live in community with them know them as catalytic vessels of salt, light, and the sweet perfume of the gospel. However, there is a secret. They don’t argue about the differences in container sizes, shapes, and colors, but rather focus on getting the salt out of the shaker, the light powered on, and the perfume released from the bottle.
When that happens, the gospel goes to work. And when the gospel goes to work, mini kingdom-movements begin. It is impossible for the salt, light, and perfume to do its work without transformation being the result.
The gospel’s power, reach, and intent are truly revolutionary, even for veterans of the faith. Put the Gospel to Work and start a mini movement.
For we are God’s handiwork,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
If you find this article interesting, I encourage you to purchase my new book The Gospel Goes to Work here. It can help you frame your 2016 vision for kingdom impact.