The great evangelist and Christian leader Billy Graham passed from this life today. I don’t need to recount the tremendous things Rev. Graham and his ministry have accomplished for the Kingdom of Christ. He was a man for whom I greatly admire and respect.
Unfortunately some are using this time as an opportunity to take apart his theology or question his methods around evangelism. That is not my desire. In fact I think that is altogether inappropriate on the day of his death. However I would like to say something about a common reaction I’m reading and encountering around his death. My Facebook feed and the Internet in general are abuzz with all things Billy. A common thread I’m observing is that when Mr. Graham died he was met by Jesus hearing “Well done my good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).
Now, I don’t question that Jesus met Billy Graham with these words. I believe this. But what about those who have screwed their life up? What of those who are convinced they will never hear such a wonderful welcome from God?
I don’t believe this message is reserved for such obvious servants of the Church, as Billy Graham. I think it’s also the greeting that the drunk, the adulterer, and the morally bankrupt will hear. Because that’s all there is in the Church. The Church by its very nature is a group of people who have been called away from trusting in their own righteousness and have put all their chips on Jesus…his sacrificial death, his perfect life. We are “good and faithful” by faith…by trusting in the imputed goodness and faithfulness of Christ. We are good and faithful servants because Jesus was those things for us and gifts them to those who don’t deserve it but gladly receive it by faith.
Let’s keep celebrating the life and legacy of William Franklin Graham Jr. But may we not lose sight of the message he spent his life preaching. A message that declares that the kingdom of Christ is for losers, for those who have given up on themselves, for those who have failed miserably and recognize that there is no one righteous, no one good, and no one who is worthy to hear “well done” (Rom. 3:10). May this be the message we preach to others and the one we believe for ourselves.