“Men of authority and influence may promote good morals. Let them in their several stations encourage virtue . . . let them favor and take part in any plans which may be formed for the advancement of morality.”
– William Wilberforce
I find the more I read Wilberforce, the more I appreciate his practicality. It is true that he was an idealist but he was an idealist who had the ability to wrap his idealism in practical application. This combination is extremely rare and when it is found, it is worthy of note and of emulation.
It was said of Wilberforce that he sought to make goodness fashionable. How did he accomplish this? Wilberforce believed that there were three forces that could be used to influence society in a moral direction. The first and most important force for accomplishing this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even a cursory reading of Wilberforces’ writings demonstrate his belief that only the transforming power of redemption in Jesus Christ could truly transform the heart and life of a man. Second, he believed that the government should enact and enforce laws that encourage people to do good things and punish them for doing bad things. Lastly, Wilberforce believed that people of influence should use a kind of positive peer pressure to make goodness fashionable.
As authentic Christians, we have done a good Job of initiating part of this strategy while virtually ignoring the rest. We have to engage people of all stations with the gospel but not in a pass you by on the street fashion. We have to build relationships with all kinds of people in politics, popular culture, and professional settings so that we way earn the right to be heard (i.e. see this post). We also have to leverage the power of culture. This doesn’t me we should be swept into it but become forces within it. We should create culture through the means of politics, the arts, and sciences. We should do everything with excellence and create a sort of curious saltiness in the mouths of society so that they thirst for truth. This cannot be done by burying our heads in the sand and walling ourselves off from nominal Christians and unbelievers in our community. It is our job to go to them (i.e. “Go ye therefore…).
So what do you think? Are you creating incentives for people to do the right thing? Are you making goodness fashionable?