I don’t know about you, but if I were to make a list of all the things I’d like to do on the weekends or on vacation, you wouldn’t find “going to the library” near the top. It would instead appear towards the bottom, just above getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist or catching up on my vaccinations.
It’s not that I dislike reading, but if I’m on vacation visiting a new city, that is not the place I’m gonna go first. There are more than enough smelly used books in Durham for that.
But this weekend I went to the most awesome library EVER–the Billy Graham Library. It’s located in Charlotte and I was able to go during the conference this weekend. And while I know it sounds like the most boring, nerdy Christian field trip ever, trust me–it wasn’t.
(Ok, maybe it was a little nerdy Christian, but it was NOT boring!)
Let me give you a little taste…
The beginning of the tour is unabashedly cheesy. It begins with a talking, animatronic cow named Bessie who talks about how Billy Graham grew up on a farm and how much all the cows loved him. She also mentions that cows can praise God too. Good to know.
At this point in the tour, I was a little skeptical–I wondered if I’d wandered into a version of Disney World in which Mickey had been replaced by Billy. But I think that segment was meant to appeal to the kids because the rest of the tour was INCREDIBLE.
I won’t spoil it for you in case you visit, but let just say that I pretty much cried my entire way through the museum. There were videos and displays and testimonies about Billy Graham’s ministry, and it was extremely moving. By the time I came out of it, I sat in a corner and cried my eyes out until a sweet little old man brought me a tissue. It was awesome.
The reason the experience touched me so powerfully is that it confirmed a message that God has been laying on my heart as of late. But let me give you some background…
Recently I’ve felt like I’ve gotten really caught up in the machine of ministry–all I think about is how to market the ministry and how to make people like the ministry once they come and how to grow the ministry and on and on and on. I’m thinking about my ministry all the time, and I feel an invisible pressure to succeed weighing down on me.
But in the last week, I’ve come to realize something–all of those commitments and strategies have ended up eclipsing Christ. It’s not that he’s absent from my ministry, but he has very slowly lost his centrality. I’ve been so focused on doing doing doing that I’ve forgotten just how simple my job is–to point to Christ.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that he’s resolved to know nothing except Christ and him crucified. He makes this statement in contrast with the idea that we must puff ourselves up intellectually and theologically. According to Paul, those things only distract, and they certainly don’t make a ministry succeed. The key is to have Christ at the center.
And while I know that this isn’t new information for most of us, my question for you is this: How often do you actually put this concept into practice. When a problem presents itself, what is your very first go-to? When you counsel a friend, do you try to give them wise sounding answers, or do you point them to Christ? If you’re a minister, do you get caught up in all the plans and strategies for making the ministry succeed, or do you simply focus on pointing people to Christ?
The difference, I believe, is whether or not we see Christ, or ourselves, as the answer to the world’s problems. When someone comes to us for help, or if we face an obstacle in our lives, our first instinct is to rely on our own strength, our own wisdom, education, training an knowledge, rather than Christ.
But this idea of always pointing people back to Christ, calling him out by name and immediately pointing people back to him in the midst of our needs–this idea is quite liberating. It takes an ENORMOUS load off of our shoulders because that is one task that I know I can accomplish. I may not preach with eloquence, and my ideas might be lame, but I can certainly tell people about Jesus.
And that’s what Billy Graham’s ministry was all about. Every sermon he gave focused on the person of Christ and making him known. That is one of the reasons his ministry has thrived–he always placed the Gospel front and center of the presentation.
So I’ve decided to carry on that legacy, a legacy that was begun for us by Paul, and has the power to change the world. My education and training is all fine and good, but I want my life’s work to be driven by a resolve to know nothing except Christ, and him crucified. Given that God became man and died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, I think I’ll do well if I just stick out my finger and point back to that.
And for those of you who were wondering, the conference went GREAT! Thanks for your prayers!