The Rev. William “Billy” Graham was laid to rest earlier today (Friday). Over 2000 people from over 500 countries were in attendance at his funeral service. Back in the mid-80s as I began to pursue the Lord’s leading into pastoral ministry several of the churches questionnaires asked me what I thought of Billy Graham. I guess at the time it was a test of fundamentalism because if you have a high opinion of Billy well, you won’t pass the test. He was considered in some circles as a heretic and liberal because of the people that he worked with and those that were on the platform with him during his crusades. I failed the Billy Graham test; I couldn’t say anything bad about him. I never understood this kind of thinking. Billy Graham did everything he could to touch as many people as he could in his lifetime with the life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that he was a man of highest integrity. In a day and age when many have dishonored the name of Christ through sexual immorality or preaching a distorted health and wealth, prosperity gospel or any number of other religious scandals, Billy Graham stayed on task and declared the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ. He never dishonored or embarrassed the name of Jesus Christ in all the formats that God had given him to serve Christ. I think that is one of the highest compliments that I can pay him that in over 75 years of public ministry he never dishonored the name of Christ. I hope that when my earthly sojourn is over the same could be said of me.
The passage that comes to mind is found in 1 Corinthians where Paul writes, “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that one be found faithful”, (1 Cor. 4:1,2 NKJV). Billy Graham handled the mysteries of God with amazing accuracy and grace. Back in 2005, Billy Graham came for his last crusade to New York City. One of the ladies in our church insisted that we needed to go because she had never been to a Graham Crusade. So we packed up the church van with about a dozen of us and went one Sunday afternoon to that crusade, which I believe was his last public crusade. It was an amazing experience, even though the woman who originally insisted that we needed to go didn’t end up going herself. That’s really how people are, they constantly let you down and are not what they appear to be. But not so with Billy Graham. He was a humble man of integrity who never lost his country roots and his biblical grounding. From his first crusades in LA in 1949 to that last crusade in New York City in 2005 Billy Graham was a faithful minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When I heard last week that Billy Graham had passed, I thought what a great and amazing experience it must have been for him to he wake up on the other side of eternity and heard the words from the Lord Jesus Christ, “well done, my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”, (Matthew 25:23). What an amazing getting up morning that must have been. I think the challenge for us today from Billy’s life is to be faithful to whatever God has called us to do for Him. The Corinthians passage talks about the role of stewards that one must be found faithful. Billy modeled a faithfulness in his ministry, in his family, and in his life that all of us would do well to follow. I’m glad for the legacy that he leaves behind, for it is a legacy of hearts and lives that have been changed by the amazing power of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was always at the center of Billy’s message. It was never about social issues or political parties, it was about the glory and honor the Lord Jesus Christ. In this day of great division let us stand on the unifying power of Jesus Christ to set people free from sin and the change our world by changing one life at a time. I’m so thankful for a life well lived before us, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to hear the world’s greatest evangelists declare the majesty and splendor of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m also delighted today to know that when Billy passed into eternity that his life did not end, but he entered into a life no longer enslaved to a dying physical body. That is the hope that all of us have who placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Rich Sivo