As America continued to debate the tragic school shooting in Parkland, FL, news broke that America’s Pastor, Dr. Billy Graham had died at his home in Charlotte at the age of 99, just a few months shy of his 100th birthday.
My first reaction was “Now there’s a real example of ‘Fake News.’” Billy Graham has passed from this earthly life, but he is anything but dead. He is more alive now than ever before, and living a life that will never end. And if he isn’t, then everything he stood for and preached to millions is a cruel hoax. Some might try to say that Billy Graham was a good man, but would argue there isn’t a God or an afterlife. Sorry, but that’s not a defensible position. If Billy Graham spent his entire adult life preaching a lie and urging people to follow a lie, then he’s hardly a “good man.” At best he would a man himself duped by spiritual fantasy and who sincerely pushed others to a belief in a fairy tale. That’s not the mark of a “good man.” Billy Graham didn’t preach a message of just going around and being polite and kind. He preached that all of us are sinners and in need of a Saviour, and that the Saviour is Jesus Christ.
That was the message of Billy Graham’s life. Didn’t matter if he was talking to Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers, or ordinary people. His message was the same for all of his decades of proclaiming the Biblical admonition to repent.
He would be criticized and sometimes held in contempt by the elites and academics for such a simple message, but while the critics came and went, Billy Graham never turned to the right or left, but kept his eye on the Cross.
His personal life was marked by financial and personal integrity. Constantly under assault by those who tried to catch him in either a financial or moral failure, he lived a circumspect life and went beyond reason to stay pure in his life so that his message was never compromised. There were no scandals. He never claimed to be perfect—just preached about one who was.
His influence was larger than any of the people who temporarily held an office or had a fortune. His power was never his, but that of Christ, and his fortune was massive, but not on earth, but stored in the incorruptible vaults of heaven.
We should be grateful to God to have lived during the time of the most influential human being in our lifetime and the most potent force of Christianity since the Apostle Paul.
That his death would come as Americans argued over why a teenager would savagely murder 17 people in a school is itself a message. The culture Billy Graham helped to influence meant that at my high school, there were lots of guns at school. They were in gun racks in the rear window of pickup trucks on the school parking lot. But no one ever thought of taking one of them and slaughtering students and teachers; or bombing the school or driving a vehicle on a busy sidewalk and mowing down pedestrians. We were raised by parents who taught us right from wrong, and we lived in an era where God was taken seriously. Billy Graham was a big part of that.
To his family, we extend our profound condolences, but to God we extend our profound thanks for sending this man to earth. We sure could use another like him now.
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