God on Monday
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech
and knowledge of every kind (1 Corinthians 1:4-5).
‘I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.’ These are not the words of a 21st-century whistle-blower talking about her career before her company fired her. They come from a much less likely source: a middle-aged cleric working in a remote Bedfordshire village in the eighteenth century.
But this country curate was a former sailor and slave trader. On his own admission, he was guilty of some of the most heinous acts of violence (physical, verbal and sexual) with which his sphere of business was associated. His life only began to change after he cried out to God during a ferocious storm at sea. The grace and forgiveness he subsequently experienced were of such profundity that on 1st January 1773, he released an autobiographical hymn to accompany his New Year sermon.
Little did he know that in 2023, the 250th anniversary year of that hymn, it would rank as one of the world’s most popular songs. Amazing Grace, by John Newton (1725-1807), is a stirring poetic masterpiece that has been performed by some of the world’s most famous singers.
It is clear from the bible verses cited above that Paul sees the transformation of speech as a sign of the workings of God’s grace. Newton, the slave trader with a reputation for vile and abusive speech, becomes Newton the preacher, hymn writer and abolitionist with a reputation for beautiful and moving verse. Grace opens eyes that are blind to abuse. It turns wretched sounds into sweet sounds.
We may not be tempted like the young Newton to use grotesque and offensive language. But is the richness of God’s grace reflected in all our communications, both in-person and via electronic media?
We may not be associated with a profession or business that is deeply immoral. But are we prepared, like Newton, to call out wrongdoing, despite the personal cost?
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see.
This Week's Author
, Director, Faith in Business
God on Monday is produced in partnership with the Church of England. The reflections are based on the scriptural readings designated for the coming Sunday in the Church's lectionary. You can sign up to Faith in Business here to receive each God on Monday instalment.
Feel free to share these reflections with your contacts via email and social media.