Slavery. We all agree its wrong don't we? The slave trade as it was 200 years ago is totally wrong, totally anti-Christian. How could any Christian ever approve of it? Its clearly sinful.
Yet 200 years ago it was an accepted part of our culture. That was how things were. In an ideal world it wouldn't happen, but there was nothing we could do. Indeed there were many Christians who thought it was a good thing. That was the culture at the time.
Its easy to sit here and say how wrong it was, and wonder how any Christians could have approved of it, isn't it?
But hold on.
What things happen in today's world that go against the teaching and message of Jesus and the Bible, yet we seem to not be as passionately against those things as we maybe should be. Things that if the human race is still going in 200 years time, Christians will wonder how we let happen.
We don't like to think of those things. They make us uncomfortable. They might mean big decisions, being counter-cultural, giving things up.
How did we drive cars knowing they are damaging the environment that God has created and speeding up global warming?
Why did we buy unfairly traded products when fairly traded equivalents were available?
Why did we allow the trade in people trafficking to go on for so long?
Why didn't we take more action to combat homelessness?
These are just examples I can think of. I'm sure there are more. Things that we know inside of us aren't really good or right, but we don't see the direct impact now or if we can we conveniently ignore it because its easy to and we don't want to face up to what we should be doing.
Maybe we do care about these problems, I expect most Christians do. It may even just be hassles of life and the difficulty or inconvenience to us in making real change makes us apathetic and thinking nothing we do will make any difference. Maybe we don't think we have the time or money.
Jesus once said that there are some people who are like seeds which start growing quickly and powerfully, but like weeds 'the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word'. Sound familiar?
Do the worries of this life and our relative wealth in the West hinder us from making tough choices and sacrifices in order to do the right thing? I think that applies to us all in one degree or another. It applied to people regarding the slave trade 200 years ago, they were used to having their slaves and found ways of justifying it or didn't face up to it because they didn't really want to.
Only when a man called William Wilberforce came along, a man who refused to take no for an answer, who didn't just accept things as they were, was willing to look foolish in front of his peers and wasn't afraid of taking action that was counter-cultural, did real change take place. And it took decades for it to become accepted in the hearts of many people and culture as a whole.
Why should it always take a big campaign, or just one person putting themselves on a line?
If each of us makes small changes to how we live and what we do, then radical change can take place without the need for big revolution. The most powerful change can happen when individuals act together making small changes. Eventually everyone starts to do the same and suddenly what seems a small change can become huge change.
We all have that power.
Don't let the worries of this life and the trappings of Western wealth hinder you making right decisions, the little decisions that are counter-cultural and which can make a difference. If we all do it, it can turn into big change.
Then in 200 years time people won't look back and wonder why we didn't do anything about problems.Instead they will see the small beginnings of what became a big change to the culture and attitudes of society. Ones that reflect Jesus' values, not consumer values.
We won't get it perfect. But we can take little steps.
Its up to me and you to make a change.