Not many Americans know the name William Wilberforce, but he changed the world in ways that still affect our lives today. Wilberforce was a British politician during the era when our own nation was being born. Wilberforce was elected to parliament at the age most of us are still living with our parents. He was independently wealthy, was a dazzling speaker, and was friends with all the right people. He could easily have been Prime Minister. But when he was 24, he gave his life to Jesus Christ. He became convinced that God put him on the earth for a purpose, what he called his “one great object,” the abolition of slavery. He gave his life to this cause, fighting for decades. That made Wilberforce a very unpopular person among some very powerful people. Terrible things were written about him in the press. His life was constantly in danger. And year after year, his proposals to abolish slavery were voted down. Late in his life, he succeeded in banning the sale of slaves, but it didn’t really help those who were already in slavery. Finally, just days before his own death, Wilberforce heard the good news: Parliament had voted for the emancipation of the slaves. You may think to yourself, “I wish I knew why God place me on this Earth.” I think that you can.
In fact, I think that you and I MUST know why God has us here on this Earth, and we must devote ourselves to that purpose. Jesus told two very similar parables: The parable of the talents (Mt. 25:14-30) and the parable of the minas (Luke 19:11-27) to let us know that life is a precious gift, far too brief...and that one day we all will have to give an account to our Creator for the way we spent that gift. How can we know what God will expect of us on that Day? What do need to do in order to be ready? That's what we will talk about this Sunday.