I just finished watching a film depicting the life of Billy Graham, obviously America's (if not the world's) greatest evangelist. Billy Graham lived until he was 99-years-old, and preached to most of our presidents during this lifetime as well as in a large number of foreign countries to who knows how many heads of state. He was the first to dare to proclaim that racial and color discriminations were against the teachings of the Bible, and declared that Jesus came into the world and died for all of the world's people. Perhaps it was because of his preaching that racism in the United States came to a close (if "close" is the right word) as soon as it did.
I liked Billy Graham and had the opportunity to participate in his Kansas City Crusade many years ago. His message was not theologically strong; it was the simple, old-time gospel, that "God so-loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16)." Early in his ministry, Billy Graham made the decision that the Bible was the "Word of God" and that he would preach its message instead of trying to define it. That message said that God loves this world and that it is His desire that none of its inhabitants should perish. To that end, he prayed with the presidents, shed tears of anguish following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York, and with the people in Oklahoma City and other places.
Needless to say, the people loved that caring attitude and message, and thousands had their lives turned around because of it. When I heard Billy Graham preach, I was astounded at the simplicity of his message. It was not "high and lofty" with big words and theological insights; it was a simple message about God's love for all people and their need to acknowledge that love, turn from their wicked ways, and accept the salvation given to them in Jesus. He boldly declared that Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)."
Things are different these days. We are told how to pray so as not to offend anyone, how to respect the religions of the world and not try to convert their people to Christianity, how to keep our religious convictions out of the political arena and certainly not allow them to influence our decision-making as a country. We do not want to hear the voice of God in what we do. When Solomon had finished building the great temple in Jerusalem to God, God spoke to him at night and declared, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (II Chronicles 7:14)." No one wants to hear that message today.
It has been a very long time since I have witnessed any of our country's leaders on their knees pouring out their souls to God for forgiveness and asking for guidance in their jobs. Only a few of our leaders have the courage to even say "I'm sorry" when they mess up. Most refuse to comment and instead hire an extra lawyer to deal with the matter. Yes, I know that I am preaching here, but we no longer have the voice of Billy Graham, and the voice of God too often has been silenced by the winds of technology, political correctness, and a loss of conviction that people who do not accept Jesus as the Son of God are lost. We acquiesce by simply asking if a person believes in God, and affirm their eternal destination with a "yes" answer.
We need a national pastor today, someone who is not afraid to boldly proclaim the Word of God to a struggling nation confused by the proliferation of unsure truth and media propaganda. We need be challenged by the question, "Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. (Psalm 2:1-2)." And we need to find men and women who are not afraid to hear the Psalmist say, "Blessed is the man (or woman) who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-2)."
As a chaplain, I am proud to be able to offer the love of God to hurting people wherever they are and to do my part in easing their pain, but it is difficult to be a chaplain without also proclaiming the Source from which I get my strength. And I will not deny my Lord just because someone says it's the right thing to do today.
• • •
Robert Box is the former chaplain for the Bella Vista Police Department and is currently the fire department chaplain. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 04/17/2019
Print Headline: We need a national pastor