The Billy Graham Effect
The life of Billy Graham has had an impact on many people.
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void… but we preach Christ crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 1:17
As you all know by now, Reverend Billy Graham went to be with the Lord, on the 21st of February. In keeping with the 2018 Master’s Men ministry theme, that we keep things simple and purely about Jesus, I’d like to share my heart on a couple of reminders that came from reflecting on the influence Reverend Graham had on my life.
Reminder #1: With Billy Graham’s passing we came to the end of an era. He helped guide our country, spiritually, during a time when America was predominately sympathetic to a Christian world view. He was a humble, simple, man who gained fame, not because he sought it but because God bestowed it.
Reflection: I find that the modern US version of Christianity, as an organized movement, has changed much in the 55 years since I trusted Jesus at a Billy Graham crusade. We still have large venues, we still use electronics to project it beyond the stadium and we still use musicians to “warm up the crowd”, but outside the Crusade ground and inside the Christian leadership subculture, there is a clamor, an upward surge for prominence, power and position among much of the leadership class. It resembles modern corporate career climbing, instead of a submission to divine appointment. It’s a human advancement exercise, instead of a submission to the sovereign role and realm God chooses to give us. I remember Billy’s apologetic response to his prominence and I think of Jeremiah’s words, straight from the mouth of God… “But you, are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them…” Jeremiah 45:5
Reminder #2: Billy Graham’s simple, biblical preaching caught the attention of both the masses and the famous. He became counselor to presidents and potentates. His global recognition made him a sort of protestant “Pope”; worldwide. Yet he never veered from his divine call to preach Christ.
Reflection: Billy never diluted his messages and pulled no punches in declaring sin, wherever he saw it – in the Church, in politicians, the US military, materialism, racism or preoccupation with sex! Consider this short clip, his message from the 1963 LA Crusade, the one where I received Jesus as my Savior. He may as well have been speaking today! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=youtu.be/7SPXeiXAP31. Dr. Graham called anything less than what Jesus stated a follower should expect as “Cheap Grace”; Billy proffered that Jesus called His disciples to war, not easy living (Mark 8:34). If we believers today would mark those words and accept that fact, we would no doubt be more courageous in both sharing as well as showcasing our faith; as Christ followers. That simple realization would that not only change our perspective, but also our behavior. That’s my reflection, today.
Reminder #3: Billy’s call to preach The Gospel gave him audience to millions; worldwide. He never veered off course. He held 417 Crusades in 185 countries. And I am grateful recipient. I received Jesus as my savior at one of his Crusades. 20 years later I joined the BGA as a campaign telephone counselor. Those days of sharing Jesus’ gospel with the call-in, TV audience, prepared me for my ministry today – sharing Jesus with men and disciplining them (counseling them) toward maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13). That simple, biblical, ministry is the primary focus of my life and the entirety of the Master’s Men ministry today.
Reflection: I have a renewed determination to stay the course, even to increase my intensity, to simply preach Jesus, make disciples and reject popularity, prestige and power.
I want me and the all of the Master’s Men, to simply carry on the Gospel lifestyle, faithfully? May we do it, till He comes!
Master’s Men Founder – Jim Cote