Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

William Wilberforce: The Good Samaritan

In the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” Jesus demonstrates with a story what it means to live the Christian commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

In the parable, a man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. A priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan pass by the victim. The priest and the Levite were both bound by duty in service to God and their fellow people. The parable rests on our assumption that priests and Levites would help people in need.

However, both men passed by the man on the other side of the road.

Just as the Judean audience would have assumed that the priest and Levite would help the beaten man on the side of the road, they likewise would have assumed that this “half-breed” Samaritan would be unlikely to do anything to help him.

However, the “Good Samaritan” does indeed help the man; and helps him beyond what the man could have asked for or imagined- especially from a stranger.

The “Good Samaritan” was a hypothetical example Jesus gave to show what it looks like for Christians to love their neighbors as themselves.

If Jesus had been speaking 1800 years later, He may have simply used William Wilberforce as the example of the way Christians should love their neighbors.

The Christian principle of loving your neighbor as yourself drove Wilberforce’s life, both publicly as a Member of Parliament as well as in his private affairs.

This principle caused him to despise the institution of slavery, because if he had been a slave he would have wanted Parliament to fight for his freedom.

Like the Samaritan, Wilberforce not only helped the slaves, he went above and beyond what anybody would deem reasonable; beyond what they could have asked or imagined from him.

He rejected any suggestions of compromise from those who sought to reform the slave trade and slavery itself, for reformed whips and shackles would have been insufficient. He ignored his friends who implored him to set abolition aside during the British war with Napoleon and France, for the French war treasure being filled by the labors of slaves in the French West Indies did not justify Britain continuing to kidnap Africans and grossly violate their human rights.

His love for his African neighbors would not allow him to compromise their freedom.

It may be an exaggeration to say that the slave trade and slavery would never have been abolished if not for Wilberforce. But it is certainly no exaggeration to say that they would not have been abolished as soon as they were without his heroic efforts.

At the dawn of his political career, Wilberforce was practically alone in Parliament in both his firm moral foundation and his outspoken opposition to slavery. By its dusk, he was joined in both by much of Parliament and England at large.

His high moral character became the high moral character that burst throughout England in the Victorian era.

Perhaps more importantly, Africa has never had a better neighbor.

For more on the man I now consider to be the greatest public servant of all time (excluding a certain Member of the Trinity, obviously), see the film “Amazing Grace” and read “William Wilberforce: a Hero for Humanity” by Kevin Belmonte.

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May 27, 2013 - Posted by | Religion |

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