TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the rest of social media have been full of images and tributes to Billy Graham this week. It has been an interesting mix of images and thoughts. I was at his 1969 crusade in Anaheim Stadium. I even sang in the choir (it didn’t require an audition). And I took some friends with me at least on one of the evenings. My mom took her beau (my dad) to the crusade in downtown LA in 1949. My life has been marked by Billy Graham. The stories could continue for decades but let me throw in my two cents.
I’ve cried this week. Many have. But one entry on Facebook post hit a mark with me. It was written by a pastor back in South Carolina (who knows Tony and Libby Campbell and spent one night in my house a couple of years back). Here’s a portion of his take, with which I heartily agree.
Billy’s example makes most American pastors look like such a joke. He preached Christ alone, forgiveness and love. He never got politically entangled or weighed down with labels or peripheral doctrines. He lived with unshakeable integrity, unyielding humility, and a bursting evangelist’s heart. He was never bogged down in the trivial crap that fills most modern pastors’ Twitter feeds and pulpits every week. And my second wave of tears… are prayerful tears, begging God to raise up more faithful gospel-preachers like him. They are tears that, maybe by God’s mercy, I could one day be one-tenth as true to the gospel.
And I think that is my sentiment as I contemplate his passing. The mission field remains. And it’s not important that we’ll never speak to hundreds of millions like Billy Graham, are we faithful to speak when we can, as God provides opportunity. My goal is not to duplicate his life, but his lifestyle. Can I live with unshakeable integrity, unyielding humility, and a bursting evangelist’s heart? Can I share the Good News of a salvation by faith alone?
Someone else passed away this week. She was 99-years old too. Not very many showed up at her funeral, not even me. But heaven rejoices at her entrance, too. She did live with unshakeable integrity, unyielding humility, and a bursting evangelist’s heart. She didn’t speak to millions and is forgotten by most today. But Sophie Lazos did invest in lives, even mine. She taught some of my Sunday School classes, even though she never had children herself. She was faithful to Christ without making a splash. She and her husband loved the Word, lived the Word, and helped the church stay true to the Word. It’s about faithfulness, not the splash we make. Don’t get confused.
There is a stark contrast between these two 99-year-old saints. From one end of the fame spectrum to the other. But they are equal before God and share the promise of eternal life.
I am reminded now to share the Gospel. And to live a life worthy of the Gospel. Go team.