What a week this has been. How good it has been to hear so many stories about Billy Graham’s life and love for Jesus. What a beautiful picture of a life well lived, free from the scandals that can so easily be a part of a life that has been so publicly scrutinized. Unlike so many, I didn’t come to know Jesus through Billy Graham’s ministry. However, I was able to talk with a precious family member who had seen a rerun from a past outreach. That gave me a chance to speak with him a bit about the Savior’s offer of forgiveness, Ephesians 2:1-9. What a joy that was to have this opportunity to be a fellow workman with Billy Graham, 1 Corinthians 3:5-7.
I enjoyed one man’s summation of Billy Graham’s life. He couldn’t do it in one word, so, he chose four. He said the evangelist’s life was characterized by humility, authenticity, integrity and love. Each of these are beautiful, but let’s think about authenticity today. The dictionary definition of authentic is something real or genuine, not fraudulent. In addition, authenticity is that which is reliable, based on that which is factual.
One of Billy Graham’s family members said that he was the same man at home as the one we saw in public. Not a fake, pretending to be someone he wasn’t when the camera was rolling. He was authentic as he preached the Gospel, not changing the message because he was trying to please men, Galatians 1:10; Proverbs 29:25.
Although he was a gifted speaker, like the apostle Paul, he didn’t rely on anything except the message of the cross and the power of the Holy Spirit. He, like Paul, knew that the power to save his hearers came through the simple proclamation of the Gospel, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:17. I saw this in Billy Graham’s life when he was old. When he turned 95 and shared the Good News, his voice that had boomed so eloquently in his youth was fairly weak. Yet, the power of the message wasn’t diminished because of that. Why? Because not only was the servant living an authentic life, he shared a totally authentic message and continued to unashamedly boast in the cross, Galatians 6:14. His weakness was no barrier for the power of God. In fact, perhaps God’s power shone forth in even a greater way, 2 Corinthians 12:9, at least, it seemed that way to me. Since Billy Graham’s message was authentic, he had no need to use fleshly methods to share it. He knew what God had done for him and that it was a message everyone needed to hear and act upon. Since the message he proclaimed was what was paramount, no trickery or gimmicks were needed when the evangelist shared it.
What challenges for those of us who have placed our hope in Jesus. Are we authentic? Is it our desire to be the same, whether we are home, among friends or doing public ministry? Do we rely on the Lord for the strength we need both for daily living and for sharing His truth? Or, do we rely on our own abilities and cleverness to reach our desired outcomes? Do we allow the power of God to be seen through our strengths as well as our weaknesses? Being authentic at this moment means that I honestly can say that these are my desires. However, I often fall short of these desires, whether willfully or through my human weakness.
Praise God that His precious blood continues to cleanse me, 1 John 1:7, as it did, Billy Graham, the Apostle Paul and all of those who have run to Jesus. He uses simple clay pots, 2 Corinthians 4:7. He is the only One Who is truly authentic, and His message is wholly trustworthy, Psalm 12:6; Numbers 23:19. Lord, Thank You for Billy Graham. Thank You for helping us to be authentic as we tell others about You.