John Piper has written a biography about a Christian pillar: William Wilberforce. Wilberforce, who served in the British Parliament for 45 years, devoted his life to abolishing the African slave trade in Great Brittan.
While the politics of Wilberforce make a great story, it was his unwavering joy in Christ that is uplifting. In an era of stuffy, joyless Christians, Wilberforce embraced the love and passion that comes from comprehending our God given grace.
For 20 years, Wilberforce introduced legislation to abolish the slave trade, only to be defeated each attempt. On February 24, 1807 abolition finally passed. The emotional Wilberforce could only manage to sit, head bowed, tears streaming down his face.
This occurred at great personal expense to Wilberforce who was frequently slandered and received death threats. During his fight he had to attend to the death of a daughter, the banishment of a son, the needs of his sickly wife, and his own poor health.
John Newton, who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, was Wilberforce’s Christian mentor. Newton guided him to a passion that resulted in Wilberforce reading Scripture or praying for 12 hours a day. Wilberforce demonstrated his understanding by authoring a popular Christian book titled A Practical View of Christianity. He was so dedicated to his church that he tithed 25% of his income, and even garnered his wife’s wrath when, one year, he gave away more money then he took in.
A feature film on the life of William Wilberforce, titled Amazing Grace, will be in theaters on February 23rd.