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Just as We Are

3 months ago written by
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My mind races as I consider the theme of this month’s issue based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

I think, “Lord, how can this be?” After all, the people who control large portions of this earth often seem to lack meekness. They don’t just have Type A personalities (nothing against Type A folks although I’m more of a Type B or even a C); they brag about their wealth, abilities and accomplishments while ignoring the strengths and achievements of others.

As I write this on Feb. 21, I’m also thinking about the breaking news of 99-year-old evangelist Billy Graham dying. Graham wasn’t perfect (no one is), but he preached the gospel faithfully while avoiding the scandals that plagued other famous television evangelists. To quote Religion News Service, Graham “was responsible for spreading evangelism worldwide, converting millions in person and via broadcasts and encouraging them to nurture their Christian lives in local congregations” (fmchr.ch/rnsbg).

As I was getting ready to leave for work this morning, NBC interrupted its Olympics coverage to report Graham’s death. The network aired a clip from a decades-old interview in which Graham said, “I don’t want them to follow me. I’m only a tool in the hands of God to proclaim the message of good news” (fmchr.ch/nbcbg).

I recently asked a fellow member of John Wesley Free Methodist Church how he began attending the church years ago despite coming from a Hindu background. This Indian immigrant said the connection came after he attended a Billy Graham crusade in Indianapolis at the invitation of a relative’s neighbor.

While traveling in India earlier this year, I looked out a bus window and thought I saw the familiar face of Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, on a poster. I later learned Lotz had recently spoken at a prayer rally there. The Graham legacy continues.

The Huffington Post’s coverage of Graham’s death included a statement he made during the civil rights movement: “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world” (fmchr.ch/hpbg).

Yes, Christ belongs to the whole world, and we can all belong to Him if we submit ourselves in meekness to Him. “We have also received an inheritance in Him” (Ephesians 1:11 HCSB), but the inheritance comes “not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:9). In the words of Graham, “When we take credit for what we’ve achieved, we cut God out of the picture” (fmchr.ch/bgmeek).

We can’t all deliver a powerful sermon like Billy Graham or Anne Graham Lotz. We can, however, come to Christ meekly singing the words of the 1835 hymn that closed Graham’s crusades: “Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind. Sight, riches, healing of the mind; yea, all I need in Thee to find. O Lamb of God, I come” (fmchr.ch/justasiam).

Jeff Finley serves as the executive editor of Light + Life, which he joined in 2011 after previously working as a reporter and editor for Sun-Times Media. He visited India in January as a guest of the Friends of Immanuel University, and you can learn more about his experiences in this month’s World section.

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[Openers] · L + L April 2018 · Magazine