In less than three months, the Christian community has lost two giants in the faith: R. C. Sproul, Sr. (Dec. 14, 2017) and Billy Graham (Feb. 21, 2018). R. C. Sproul was probably one of the (if not the) greatest theologians in the Reformed community. Billy Graham was the greatest evangelist that has lived since possibly the Apostle Paul. Both will be sorely missed. There is no doubt that these men leave behind quite the legacies. They left the reformed and the evangelicals stronger and greater than when they found it.
While neither of these men sought fame, it sought them. And they both dealt with such an intrusion well. The fame, the spotlights, the lectures, sermons, teachings, etc. were not an end in themselves. Christ was the end. That was what both these men sought more than anything: Jesus. Because of Jesus they would endure through the good and the bad, the hard and the pleasant. I am sure they could have indulged themselves if they had wanted, and yet they refused. Like Moses, “[They] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of [America], for [they were] looking to the reward,” (Hebrews 11:26).
I cannot help but think of all of us “rank and file” Christians. Most of us will not have the fame that these two men did. When we die our funerals will not be simulcast across the world, and we will probably not be interned at the Capitol building in Washington, D. C. That’s okay. The question is simply, will we leave our legacy behind with those who did know us? That’s simple, of course we will leave a legacy behind. The real (and more difficult) question is, what kind of legacy will we be leaving behind? Each one of us affect the lives of those who know us: children, parents, friends, church members, a person we stood next to at the DMV.
Most of us are not really looking at our legacy too closely. I know it isn’t all about us; it’s about Jesus. But our legacy will shape the way people view Jesus. If our legacy is one of peace, and people know how attached we were to Jesus, they will likely view him differently than if our legacy was one of anger or lust or deceitfulness. We often get too caught up in the here and now rather than the legacy that we are in the midst of developing. All too often we are seeking instant gratification rather than delay it for something greater. That greater reward that Moses, Sproul, and Graham all sought after. Have you ever wondered why? I have. I have come to the conclusion that when we do not delay our gratification, but accept instant gratification it is for one or more of the following reasons:
- We do not truly believe that what is promised in the delayed gratification is real.
- We do not truly trust the Giver of that promise to give it to us.
- We are not attracted to the promise.
If we are not convinced of the promise, then we will take whatever we can get. We will simply not be patient enough to collect on the promise. Since we are not convinced, we will simply be willing to forfeit it for something of lesser value. I will take $10 today guaranteed than take $1,000 next week. Why? Because I don’t believe there is a $1,000 with my name on it.
Or it could be that I don’t believe that the guy offering the $1,000 will make good on his promise. I’d rather have that $10 because I can see it, smell it, and hold it in my hands now. I don’t have to trust in that which I cannot see.
Or it could simply be that we don’t want the $1,000. It doesn’t appeal to us. The $10 will due.
We aren’t talking about $10 or $1,000 though. We are talking about heaven and the rewards in heaven. How often do we forfeit the rewards in heaven for lower, baser pleasures on earth? Our brothers, R. C. Sproul and Billy Graham, showed us what a life could and would be like by keeping the future in mind at all times. They showed us what keeping the end-game does for the soul and the legacy of a Christian–not the fame, but the faithfulness and poise and influence in spite of the fame.
What will your legacy be? You are already in the midst of building it? It’s not too late to reevaluate and take a look at the end, to determine how the life will build toward that end. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it,” (Luke 14:28, ESV). The Christian legacy is all about the end, counting the cost, and finishing well.