Sunday, March 25, 2007

A calling we cannot ignore

I saw the film, 'Amazing Grace' today. It's about Christian and political activist William Wilberforce and his fight against the slave trade. I'm not afraid to say it moved me to tears. Yes it may not be 100% historically accurate, but the principle, the message that it sends out to people is powerful and challenging to all of us, in particular I think to Christians.

We think nowadays that we are the 'enlightened ones', that in the age of the internet, endless TV channels and information sources, that there is nothing more we know or can do. We are more cynical and apathetic to the world's problems, thinking there is nothing we can do, because we see so much of it, it seems so big and so distant.

But are we really the enlightened ones? Personally I think not. In 100 years time people will know even more than we do now.We cannot allow our own pride to blind us to the problems in this world which are totally against God's principles and plan. Now we look back at 200 years ago and wonder how Christians could ignore the problem so long or be so resistant or afraid to take action to make a change. What will people in 200 years think of the Christians' delay in acting over things like people trafficking for example?

Looking back, when William Wilberforce started his campaign few believed in him or his message. It was counter-cultural. Even God-fearing people had accepted that slavery was part of society that couldn't be changed, or could just be ignored. It was a problem that everyone brushed under the carpet because it suited their own ends and meant hard choices.

But when Wilberforce put it on the agenda, no one could ignore it any more. People could not use lack of knowledge as an excuse. One of the most powerful scenes of the film is when he surprises some upper-class folk by showing them a slave ship and making them breath in 'the smell of death'. Right then it became real to them. They were compelled to act.

The real challenge is honestly and humbly looking the world around us and seeing what things generally accepted, ignored or forgotten by other parts of society are wrong in God's sight and then make choices to change and do something about it. That is what God calls us all to do. There is so much poverty, injustice and inequality in this world and we can do something about it. There are problems which are huge which as responsible Christians we have a duty to get involved somehow. There are few excuses now. We don't have to travel abroad as missionaries, we don't have to be someone like William Wilberforce to help out. We must do what we can. Give money, lobby MP's, make changes in our lifestyle that allow others to have a better standard of life. Don't accept these problems, don't believe that you can't make a difference. What a difference it would make if all those people who thought that did something.

It's a real challenge and we can't ignore it. We can all help in our own ways but something we can all do is pray. Pray for an end to injustice, oppression, people-trafficking and all forms of slavery. Ask God to show you what you can do. This is a challenge for all of us - including myself. I know how hard is for me to motivate myself to do something, but surely all of us can at the very least pray and led practical and possibly small financial support to organisations.

For example, I am involved in a charity who raise money to pay for uneducated children in Africa to go to school. We have already started to see real results, with two children now getting an education that otherwise they would have been denied, purely through taking action. I'm not saying I'm perfect at this or that I'm better than anyone else for being involved with this, I purely use this as an example. I find it hard to motivate myself to keep going at it, stay hungry and make time to get involved and help out. But it's a choice I make and that we as Christians and human beings have to make.

It will not be easy, because it involves giving up our time and sometimes money. But it is vital we doing something. We can make a real difference and significantly impact this world for God and show people that God is against these things, that they are wrong and we will stand up for God's principles practically. As Wilberforce eventually found, if we keep believing then things can really change.

God calls us to serve Him and use what we have been given to serve others and to fight against sin, slavery, injustice and poverty With Him on our side, if we are willing to make right choices, then we can make a difference.

The question is, what are we doing about it?