As I have reflected on the life and legacy of Billy Graham the past two days I have been keenly aware of the attention that his death has received. As I scroll through my Facebook feed, it seems as though every single post is regarding Billy Graham. Local media and national media alike have devoted an incredible amount of time to honoring Dr. Graham's life. As I write this article, there are no less than twenty news headlines on our local news website. I'm astounded at the world's reaction to his passing. Certainly, we can understand believers reacting this way, but the world? It seems as though even those who normally show no fruit of regeneration in their lives are saddened by the passing of Billy Graham. I believe this is his legacy.
Billy Graham is remembered in many ways; holding enormous crusades, founding a widely read magazine publication, founding a radio ministry, utilizing the technology of the television, his international crusades, the music ministry of his associates, being the spiritual counselor to 12 US presidents, the various schools that his name is attached to, the books he wrote and the books written about him, and so on. The impact that Billy Graham had upon the world is so wide spread and can never be measured on this side of eternity, but the coverage of his death from media outlets and social media both are a great indicator.
Here are a few lessons I believe we can learn from Billy Graham:
Billy Graham was faithful. I think the world is fixated on Billy Graham this week because of his faithfulness to a simple gospel message: God loves you. He never strayed from the truth of this gospel, in word or deed. Unlike many popular preachers, his life and ministry was never stained by scandal. He remained faithful, above reproach, to the end.
Billy Graham was zealous. God used Billy Graham in an extraordinary way and he is continuing to use him even in his passing, but Dr. Graham's message is the same message that you and I ought to be telling the world. It is a simple message of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. It is a message that is good news. I wonder how God might use me and you if we were as zealous to proclaim this message as Billy Graham was.
Dr. Graham was available. He committed his life to the work of proclaiming the gospel. When the door opened, he walked through it. Millions upon millions of people heard the gospel all across planet earth. He was open to creative ways of getting the message out; from crusades, to radio, to print magazines, to books, to DVD, to the internet. His message may have always stayed the same, but his method of delivery was always evolving as technology evolved. Tradition and routine didn't seem to hinder Billy Graham from using different avenues of the gospel message. You and I will do well to make our lives available for God to use, and not be restricted by our traditional methods.
What sort of attention will your life receive when you pass? Will the world even care that you're gone? What will they remember about you? Your money or your house? Your toys? Your athletic ability? I want to be remembered for my faithfulness to God, my zealousness for the gospel of the Jesus Christ, and my availability to be used by God for his kingdom work. I want to be remembered as I will remember Billy Graham: a preacher of the Word of God.