One reason I am passionate about helping followers of Christ to connect their faith with their everyday work is because authentic Christianity is not just something for the individual soul, but for the community as a whole.
If you take William Wilberforce’s passion for the reformation of society, and combine it with John Wesley’s passion for "real Christianity," then mix it together with regular gatherings of a small "Clapham Circle" of Christian businessmen, bankers, and other politicians for advice, encouragement, accountability and perspective, what do you get?
You get what the English poet William Cowper described as, “the better hour.”
There are four big take-aways from the Wesley-Wilberforce story that are meaningful to me:
First, while Wesley's work as a full-time preacher-teacher was the right thing for him to do, if Wilberforce had left politics to go “into the ministry” it would have been a great loss. A Christian politician can be “in the ministry” too, directly by doing his or her daily work in that field.
Second, a small group of believing friends to provide encouragement and accountability in connecting one's faith with one's work is indispensable.
Third, the application of real Christianity to all of life is transformational, not just for individuals, but for whole communities and nations.
Fourth, there is no better opportunity to live out the application of real Christianity than in the context of everyday, regular work. This is what Wilberforce did.
When it comes to "salting" and "lighting" the world, isn’t the everyday workplace the most fitting place for followers of Christ to apply the biblical worldview to real life, in natural and normal ways?
I’m not talking about sharing the Four Spiritual Laws with co-workers here. I’m talking about living out authentic Christianity in the context of our work relationships, decision-making processes, policies and procedures, marketing and sales, product development and production, pricing, contracts, accounting, management, strategic planning and community service.
Right now millions of followers of Christ are already sprinkled throughout the workplaces of the world, at all levels of society, in all arenas of influence. What might happen to whole communities and nations if we all did our daily work, in all spheres of human endeavor, "as for the Lord?"
Os Guinness was profoundly correct when he said: "God has His people where He wants them. The problem is that they are not being His people where they are.”
Wilberforce demonstrated a keen understanding of the full-orbed Gospel of the Kingdom. This understanding changed the face of his nation—and the world. I think it is time for a refresher course.