by Dr. Stephen Graves
William Wilberforce has long been viewed as a hero, a Kingdom change agent, and a statesman-saint who was committed to bringing the redemptive edge to all 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 a perfect illustration of someone who understood and lived out the Four-Act Gospel.
Nothing that’s 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 behind human trafficking (the 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 associates refused to simply let this gospel gap grow any wider.
As Wilberforce thought about his conversion and his calling, he asked himself a pivotal question: Why had God saved him? Chuck Colson summarizes Wilberforce’s conclusion this way: “If Christianity was true and meaningful, it must not only save but serve.”1 Yes, the gospel had saved his soul. But the gospel wasn’t only for him to “consume.” It was to serve all humanity in redemption and renewal. For Wilberforce, serving meant finding the gospel gaps in his particular industry (politics and government) and addressing them with the gospel. He spent his entire adult life doing that.
A more recent hero who unleashed the power, reach, and intent of the gospel into culture was the late Bob Briner, the 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 lives of individuals but also in society itself.” 2
Both Wilberforce and Briner strongly believed what Chuck Colson later said: “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.”3 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 all. They’re embedded in megaglobal companies. They own small local bakeries or insurance agencies. They’ve launched their own social-media marketing firms, and they coach sports teams. They occupy all industries and sectors.
Every community has men and women who are putting the gospel to work. Those who work next to them and live in community with them know them as catalytic vessels of the salt, light, and sweet perfume of the gospel. However, there’s a secret. They don’t argue about the different sizes, shapes, and colors in which the gospel is packaged; rather, they focus on getting the salt out of the shaker, the light powered on, and the perfume out of the bottle.
When that happens, the gospel goes to work. And when the gospel goes to work, mini-Kingdom movements begin. It’s impossible for the salt, light, and perfume to do their work without resulting in transformation.
The gospel’s power, reach, and intent are truly revolutionary, even for veterans of the faith. Put the gospel to work and start a minimovement.
Think about what could happen if the Christians in your workplace realized that they were saved to serve.
Chuck Colson, preface to William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), xii.
Bob Briner, Roaring Lambs: A Gentle Plan to Radically Change Your World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1993), 56.
Chuck Colson, as quoted in Abraham Kuyper, Wisdom and Wonder: Common Grace in Science and Art (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian’s Library, 2011), 15.
Excerpted from Dr. Stephen R. Graves, The Gospel Goes to Work Bible Study. © 2017 LifeWay Press. Used by permission.