This past Wednesday morning the world mourned the death of Billy Graham at the age of 99. Just seeing or hearing the name brings to mind the voice of the North Carolina preacher inviting people to come to Christ.
In the August 14, 2006 edition of Newsweek appears Jon Meacham’s interview of Billy Graham. Meacham was amazed by Dr. Graham’s attitude in spite of his deteriorating health and made this observation: “He seems congenitally incapable of surrendering completely to the weakness of the body.”
One of Dr. Graham’s daughters, Ann Graham-Lotz, recounted a conversation with her father on the subject of aging. Her father said, “All my life, I’ve been taught how to die, but no one ever taught me how to grow old.” She replied, “Well, Daddy, you are now teaching all of us.”
Graham-Lotz also noted that she had learned an important lesson about aging after observing her father: “When you get older, secondary things, like politics, begin to fall away, and the primary things become primary again. And for Daddy, the primary thing is, as Jesus said, to try to love God totally and to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Once when speaking about what it is to be a Christian, Graham said, “Being a Christian is more than just a righteous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more like Christ.”
That rings so true with what Jesus said in Mark 8:34-35, “If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”
When you follow Jesus, it means putting your own self-survival in the backseat. The first act of following Jesus is totally reordering your priorities and principles to the way of the Kingdom. It’s no longer about saving your life. Following Jesus means that your priority is to lose your life.
On the cross you don’t just lose your life, but you do so in a wholly unfashionable way. You lose everything. Life. Honor. Pride. But Jesus says that in such loss EVERYTHING is, in fact, gained!