November 18, 2014

A week and a half ago, Billy Graham turned 96.  I once had the privilege of meeting Billy Graham in a the home of a mutual friend back in 1999. It was one of the unexpected highlights of my life. My father came to Christ upon hearing one of Billy Graham’s sermons, as did my dad’s older brother, who later founded the Pioneers missions organization.

Way back in 1957 at the Urbana missions conference, Dr. Graham preached on the nature of true commitment to Jesus Christ.  That was the theme of my sermon on Philippians 3:12-21 this past Lord’s Day.  I had wanted to share the following illustration during my sermon, but I was running short on time so decided to share this story on my blog instead.

During his 1957 Urbana address, Billy Graham pulled out a copy of a letter that the pastor of the Presbyterian church in his hometown had given him.  The letter was written by a university student after he had gone to Mexico and become a Communist.  He wrote to his fiancée, breaking off their engagement.  Here is part of what he said:
We Communists have a high casualty rate. We’re the ones who get shot and hung and lynched and tarred and feathered and jailed and slandered, and ridiculed 
and fired from our jobs, and in every other way made as uncomfortable as possible. 
A certain percentage of us get killed or imprisoned. We live in virtual poverty. 
We turn back to the party every penny we make above what is absolutely necessary
to keep us alive. 
We Communists don’t have the time or the money for many movies, or concerts, 
or T-bone steaks, or decent homes and new cars. We’ve been described as fanatics. 
We are fanatics. Our lives are dominated by one great overshadowing factor, 

We Communists have a philosophy of life which no amount of money could buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate 
our petty personal selves into a great movement of humanity, and if our personal lives seem hard, or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the 
party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us in
his small way is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind.  There is one thing in which I am dead earnest and that is the Communist cause. It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife and mistress, my bread and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream 
of it at night. Its hold on me grows, not lessens as time goes on. Therefore I cannot carry on a friend-ship, a love affair, or even a conversation without 
relating to this force which both drives and guides my life.  I evaluate people,
books, ideas and actions according to how they effect the Communist cause
and by their attitude toward it.  I’ve already been in jail because of my ideas
and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.

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If someone could be so radically committed to such a flawed political system such as Communism, how much more should Christians be committed to the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose “kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14)? Indeed, Jesus himself declared, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). C.T. Studd understood the implications of Jesus’ call to discipleship, stating, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”

What are the implications of Jesus’ call for your life?  What sacrifice are you willing to make for Him?




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