Sunday, March 23, 2014

Excerpts From 'Real Christianity' By William Wilburforce, Published in 1797


IN THE ROMAN EMPIRE, PUBLIC SPIRIT WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE LOVE OF GLORY, both for the empire and for its heroes.  The result was an insatiable hunger for conquest that eventually led to Rome's downfall.  When public vitality depends on conquest, vitality languishes when conquest is gone. Wealth and luxury produce stagnation,  and stagnation terminates in death..... 
....Nor can a society long survive whose basis of existence is the misery of other cultures. It, like Rome, becomes the enemy of its neighbors and the  scourge of the human race.  All these outcomes are examples of what happens when man attempts to be God.  All efforts turn out to have faults in their execution and fail to achieve their purposed goals.....Christianity is in every way opposed to the very enemy of political communities: selfishness... 
We could say that the primary purpose of true Christianity is to root out natural selfishness and all that comes with it in order to help us develop a proper sense of who we are and what our obligations are to our fellow human beings.  Benevolence is the driving force of authentic Christianity.  It is the direct result of developing a lifestyle of moderation in the pursuit of pleasure and affluence, a degree of indifference to the things culture has decided are important, diligence in the performance of personal and civil responsibilities, a commitment to doing the will of God, and a patient and trusting attitude toward the providence of God in one's response to the unpredictable and often discouraging events of life.  A life of authentic faith will produce humility in our lives.  Humility is essential if a man or woman is to develop a spirit of genuine benevolence. 
In whatever sector of society Christian faith exists, it sets out to fight against the cost to human dignity that selfishness has exacted. It teaches the wealthy the wealthy to be generous and to have a proper view of the privileges and responsibilities that come with  financial success. When wealth is used properly and those who have it demonstrate humility, the inequities of life are less bitter to those who do not possess it.  On the other hand, for those who live in less affluent circumstances,  authentic faith teaches diligence, patience, industry and a recognition that the faithful execution of their responsibilities is to be done with out envy of the rich or bitterness toward their own state. 
Contentment is a product of recognizing that the way things are is not the way that they should be and that one day they will be as God intended. The amount of energy put into the pursuit of worldly wealth, power and fame is not worth the ultimate value of the pursuit.  The   great benefit of authentic faith is that it produces a state of inner peace that gives much greater satisfaction than the most expensive pleasure it can provide.  It is not limited by any social, economic or racial barrier.  In some ways, it is a benefit not to have to deal with the variety of temptations that wealth affords.  There is much to be said for a simple life.  The true treasure for people of faith is the inheritance that Christ now keeps for them that will one day be their. 
It is important to note that the requirement for all these benefits to occur is a real, deep, authentic faith.  Nominal or superficial Christianity does not have the ability to create such outcomes.....

----Real Christianity, William Wilberforce,  pages 154-156

Fortunate is the man and woman who discovers this great truth sooner rather than later in life and can walk away from the worldly promises that never fulfill.

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