On Wednesday, February 21st, 2018, our world lost one of it’s most impactful leaders and Heaven welcomed another saint home when Billy Graham met Jesus face to face. I believe Billy Graham will go down as the most influential Christian leader of not only my generation but my parents and grandparents generations as well. I’m not sure we will ever see another leader like him.
When I first heard the news of Reverend Graham’s passing, I shed a tear. Not because I knew him personally or even that he had a direct impact on my life, but because of the picture in my mind of his reception home! How many thousands or millions of people are in heaven as a direct result of his ministry? How did it sound for him to hear the words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!” from the very person he preached so passionately about?
Billy once said, “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.”
On Thursday, I sat all of our staff down to watch two videos about Billy Graham and discuss his life, ministry, and legacy. Some of our staff is so young they really didn’t know much about him but his name. I remember attending one of his crusades in Denver as a child and still remember the crowds of people, almost running to the altar, to give their lives to Jesus.
I showed the following video from PBS in our staff meeting and wanted to share 7 reflections that stood out about Billy Graham from it.
1. Reverend Graham was a man of great integrity. In an era where the news of another minister being removed for a moral failure, Billy Graham was a breath of fresh air. I believe, more so than the numbers of people whom he reached, his faithfulness to the very end is his most enduring trait.
It was pointed out in the second half of this video, that over the course of a 50-year ministry, he was never seriously charged with any scandal. Outside of the criticism for his apparent anti-semitic comments, he remained faithful to God, his spouse, his family and those he led.
2. Reverend Graham had his own faults and sins. I think Billy Graham would be the first to admit that he himself was a sinner in need of a savior. We saw that with his confession and repentance of the anti-semitic words/views tied to his conversation with the president.
Reverend Graham’s integrity was so high, we in the church would even use him in our preaching about the necessity of salvation. We say things like, “Even Billy Graham has sinned.” It’s funny we say that isn’t it?
I’m sure there are many things about Billy Graham that we will never know, nor should we. I just think it’s a great reminder that we are all dead and lost without Jesus! Billy Graham, the man we hold in highest esteem, made mistakes and had to confess them and receive forgiveness.
3. Reverend Graham was not afraid to leverage technology. In other interviews, it’s talked about how Billy was the first minister to use all forms of media, especially television. By the time he hit the preaching circuit, print and radio were widely used. Reverend Graham was one of the first to leverage the use of television and do it well.
It reminds me that technology is a tool that needs to be redeemed and leveraged by the church. Technology in and of itself is neutral. It’s neither good nor bad. We’ve seen what the enemy can do with technology. Why not the church? I’m praying for more visionary leaders like Billy Graham to leverage technology for the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
4. Reverend Graham didn’t just desire equality, he demanded it. Billy Graham did receive scrutiny during the Civil Rights Movement for his apparent slowness in joining the cause, but when he did, he was all in.
The image of Billy Graham not just asking for the segregation rope to be removed at one of his crusades, but physically removing it himself is amazing. Still today, we need more leaders who seek equality like Billy Graham did.
5. Reverend Graham preached with simplicity. Billy Graham did not mince words when he preached. He preached Jesus, him crucified, risen and coming again. He was an anointed, gifted and powerful preacher of God’s Word. If you’ve never heard one of Billy’s sermons, you need to go to YouTube right now and pull a few up. You’ll be mesmerized.
In the interview, he said, “It took me a long time to learn that there are certain elements in every audience I speak to. There’s always people who are lonely, a sense of guilt and a fear of death. Those are elements that one can touch on and speak to and I try to bring that into every sermon that I preach. That Christ is the answer. That He is the hope.”
It would do us preachers well to remember that. There are always people in the room who are lonely, have a sense of guilt and a fear of death. Those are elements that one can touch on and speak to and I try to bring that into every sermon that we preach. That Christ is the answer. That He is the hope.
6. Reverend Graham was able to cross both sides of the political aisle. I kinda chuckled in the video when they said that Billy was a lifelong Democrat. Sadly, that will upset some Evangelical Christians more than the fact he apparently made anti-semitic remarks.
How many outspoken, Christian ministers today would be able to span the aisle like he did? I don’t know if anyone can do that again. Not just on a personal level, but the amount of scrutiny and pressure in this social media age, I just don’t know if it can be done.
I loved when Billy said this, “If I said things publicly and preached to the president from some pulpit somewhere I’d never get another opportunity to talk with him privately.”
Reverend Graham was intentional with his influence. He knew, if he was even going to have an opportunity to talk privately with the president, he needed to be respectufl publicly. Man, we can learn a lot from him, right?
7. Reverend Graham preached about Jesus even in his death. Do you understand the incredible significance it is, that on a PBS news report, the Gospel was preached to the world? And PBS wasn’t the only one to have a special. CNN, FOX News, ABC, NBC, all of them, had tributes like this to the late Billy Graham.
This is not about liberal media or fake news at all, so please hear me. But come on! Some of the most liberal news outlets on the planet were praising this man’s life and playing clips of him preaching about Jesus. That is PROFOUND!
I think it could be said of Billy Graham what God said about Abel in Hebrews 11:4b Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.
His life on earth may have ceased, but Billy Graham is still speaking.
After his father’s death, Franklin Graham shared on social media that his dad had a burden to preach one final message, but wasn’t physically strong enough to do so. The Scripture God had laid on his heart was Galatians 6:14. It says, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Wow! Even as he approached death, he was still consumed by the Life of Christ and seeing other people come to life. Thank you, Reverend Graham, for your faithful commitment, powerful preaching and your love for Jesus! You are still impacting the world.