"John replied in the words of Isaiah: 'I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's coming.' " John 1:23
By now, most everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, know of the death of Rev. Billy Graham. In a number of the secular news sites, I've read the responses of many in the comments section below the story. A good number express sorrow at his passing, and honor the man and his ministry. Yet mixed in are a large number of mocking, even vicious statements about who they believed he was. A couple of things come clear to me in all that. First, there can be little doubt that his was the preeminent voice of Christianity in the 20th century. That can't be debated, and he spoke into a fallen world culture throughout his ministry life. He was always a voice shouting in the wilderness. He always sought to prepare a pathway for the Lord's coming....wherever he spoke, and wherever he was.....Secondly, the ugly reaction by many to his death reflects the depths to which that culture has sunk. It also shows us how desperately both the world culture, and the culture of this nation need to hear a new voice, indeed, voices, crying out in the wilderness. Seeking, in all of their words, actions, and ways, and wherever they may be, to prepare a straight path for His coming.
I was speaking to the man who was my first pastor last night. I still consider him such. He remarked on who might be the one the Father raises up to take up the mantle just laid down by Rev. Billy. Who would be Elisha to his Elijah. Maybe the Father will choose to do just that, but maybe instead, He will not raise up just one, but many. Many voices crying out in the wilderness that is this fallen world. Many voices seeking, wherever they may be, to prepare a straight path for the coming of Christ into every area of life. First in His Church, and then through that Church, into the surrounding culture. Voices crying out in the wilderness. And there can be no doubt, wherever you are today, it is most certainly a spiritual wilderness. He will be raising up voices.The question for each of us is, will we be one of them?
The wilderness exists not just outside of the Church, but within it. We are seeing the watering down of His Word, and along with it, its supernatural and mystical wonder. Intellectualism is more and more coming to the forefront. Cultural trends are dictating to the Church, and the Church is less and less speaking into the culture. The culture is shaping us, while it is to be the Church that shapes the culture. John knew the reality of the state of His people when he was sent. Do we? Do you, and do I? The wilderness is literally dying for a voice. Dare we be it?
A "celebrity" recently mocked a prominent Christian because he said that Christ regularly spoke to him. She suggested such people should be considered mentally ill. The Church today needs to know not just what He has said in His Word, but what He is saying through it right now. He speaks, do we hear. And as He speaks, do we speak for Him to the generation He has placed us in? A generation lost in the wilderness. A generation in need of a voice. Of voices. Again...will we be those voices?