"Wilbur...you have work to do. Take them on. Stop them! Do it! Blow their dirty, filthy ships out of the water!" - John Newton, to his younger contemporary, William Wilberforce, as they both work toward "undoing" the slavery that John had played a part in maintaining
"To Timothy my true son in the faith...stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work-which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm." - The Apostle Paul, to his younger contemporary, Timothy, as they both work toward "undoing" a slavery that Paul had played a part in creating.
I just saw "Amazing Grace". The movie about William Wilberforce working to abolish the slave trade in England.
I was "assigned" to see this movie by one of my Shepherds and with another one of my Shepherds. The idea behind the assignment was that I am a type of William Wilberforce, and my Shepherd who came with me is a type of John Newton...and that our relationship is similar, and that seeing ourselves played out in this movie would be inspiring and healing.
Now, I just want to go on record as saying that this is a really cool "assignment" to give somebody!
But more importantly...He was right.
Of course, the "movie" that we are living in is not quite as "Big Screen" worthy, but it summoned much from the depths of our hearts nonetheless.
The "cause" that William was passionately working for was freedom and life for all men. The enemy was slavery...men enslaved to other men rather than God alone. William's mentor and minister, John Newton, used to own a slave ship, but repented (he is the one who wrote the song "Amazing Grace") and now serves God as a humble minister of the pure gospel and inspires others to do the same. John is somewhat haunted by "20,000 ghosts", he says...the souls of those slaves that he had a hand in enslaving. He is free from playing that role anymore in his life, doing quite the opposite now, but he desperately wants to undo what he has done. And through his enabling of William, and his own confessional truth telling, he plays a significant role in doing just that. While William's passion and giving of his life for the cause is the primary storyline being watched in the theatre (i.e.: He is the one "preaching" in the parliament), it is John's repentance from his past life that offers poignant credibility and inspires persistent faithfulness to the cause.
The "cause" that I am passionately working for is freedom and life for all men. The enemy is slavery...men enslaved to legalistic religion rather than Christ alone. My mentor and minister, this Shepherd, used to preach and teach this legalistic religion, but repented and now serves God as a humble minister of the pure gospel and inspires others to do the same. My Shepherd is somewhat haunted by his "20,000 ghosts" as well...the souls of those slaves who still live under a legalistic righteousness that he had a hand in teaching. He is free from playing that role anymore in his life, doing quite the opposite now, but he desperately wants to undo what he has done. And through his enabling of me, and his own confessional truth telling, he plays a significant role in doing just that. While my passion and giving of my life for the cause is the primary storyline being watched in our "theatre" (i.e.: I'm the one preaching from the pulpit), it is my Shepherd's repentance from his past life that offers poignant credibility and inspires persistent faithfulness to the cause.
William and John go about their separate lives, connecting periodically and memorably just a few times throughout the movie, faithfully living out and fighting for the cause in their separate roles and ways. I imagine that for each of them, the mere thought of the other inspires them to continue faithfully in the life they now live , and want all others to see.
That is a pretty good description of the relationship that my Shepherd and I have.
May God bless us with the blessing of living every day in faithfulness to this worthy cause, and may we be grateful every day for how God has given us each other to keep us ever-inspired to die for it.
"I once was lost, but now am found...was blind, but now I see." - A line from the John's song, Amazing Grace