Billy Graham is a hero. He has brought tens of thousands of people to Christ. His appearance in a city would polarize most of the people, either drawing them in to see someone who is almost a prophet, or forcing them away because of the people avoiding recognition of their sin.
Rick Warren is a friendlier version of Billy Graham. Warmer and fuzzier. Less black-and-white, more welcoming. Yet he also speaks the truth, and has those who rise up against him.
And then there’s me. I can speak up rather well if I’m presenting something else besides the gospel. Technology? A cinch. Conservative values? I’m fine. My own Christianity? I become a blubbering, knee-knocking wimp. I shouldn’t, but I do. I don’t need to, because I’m presenting the most powerful force in the universe, the most kind and loving God who wants to help people, including me. I get caught up in how I’m going to say something, and how it will be received, and how I will be thought of. I worry and I waver.
I don’t live out the Gospel that I am trying to convey. Matthew 10:19-20 says
But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
And I’m not even being handed over to anybody! I’m fighting my own battle, against myself, and too often I’m the victor instead of Christ. Romans 14:22-23 says
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
Paul is talking about eating food sacrificed to idols, but it applies to all of life. Don’t try to live up to other peoples’ standards – live up to the standards that God has for you (for me. For Steve.). God hasn’t called me to fill stadiums and try to convert people by the boatload. God didn’t ask me to write a best-selling book. God called me from a life of sin, and gave me talents and the intelligence to use them. He gave me a wonderful wife who loves God and offers me love, support, and encouragement. He gave me a background that I chose to be a Pharisee with, having a public face and a private life, and then He called me from that two-faced life into an integrated and whole life dedicated to Him.
I still carry scars, as do we all. Mine tend to be internal. I’m a people pleaser and still have lots of self-doubt. I am concerned that people will see the real me, and will run and laugh.
But the truth is that I am the prodigal son, and the only person that matters is my Heavenly Father. He will run to me, not away from me. He will laugh in the joy of a homecoming. He will wrap His infinite arms around me and hold me forever, because He loves me.
It’s God I need to focus on, to live for, to please, to bask in. Not others, not Bettie, not me. God the father, accessible through Jesus my brother, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
A hero worth worshiping.