As I walked down Hollywood Boulevard I couldn't help counting the bronze stars embedded in the sidewalk, each with the name of a famous star of the entertainment world. There was Barbra Streisand, Jack Nicholson, Glenn Campbell, Bobby Vinton, Zsa Zsa Gabor... I felt as if I knew them as I walked by their name and their star, remembering them for their great performances in movies and songs and plays. As I passed Rex Harrison's star the songs of My Fair Lady flooded my mind, and then I saw William Shatner's star and I was flying through space in the Starship Enterprise. And then I found myself dancing with Judy Holliday, and then... Billy Graham?! I never dreamed I would see Billy Graham's star! Was he star, too?
It startled me. What would a preacher of the gospel have to do with these Hollywood stars? Yet there he was: his name, among the great celebrities whom the world loved and adored.
But then I remembered how the Bible said in John 3:16 that "God loved the world so much," so why shouldn't Billy Graham be honored by the world he loved so much, and by the world's famous people who loved him? Billy Graham -- the most famous man of God the world has ever known, honored by presidents, kings, popes, and the celebrities of this world -- preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of them; and I heard that he said that was what he wanted to be remembered for: the gospel he preached.
I remembered, when I was a boy, seeing him on "This is Your Life" on the Art Linkletter Show, and I remember the admiration I felt toward him and his family, along with George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. Everyone in the world loved this man of God so much, honoring him with great admiration. Just think how many famous athletes, movie stars, pop singers, and even country singers like Johnny Cash, have been saved by his gospel. It brought back to my mind the words of Christ in Luke 6:26, "Blessed are you when all men speak well of you, for so did men speak of the prophets of old." Surely he was blessed and regarded as a prophet, for the whole world loved this man so much -- presidents, kings, popes, all the religions of the world -- for he was a good and righteous preacher of the Good News. Why else would the world love him so much? After all, didn't Jesus say in John 15:18, "If the world loves you, know that it loved Me first"?
Why, the Gallup Poll listed Billy Graham among the Ten Most Admired Men in the World for 36 years straight, more than any other individual in the world, placing him at the head of the list of those most admired by Americans for the past four decades! It was no wonder that they called him the Reverend Billy Graham! And in 1967, Belmont Abbey College, a Roman Catholic school, granted him an honorary doctorate, so he could be called Dr. Graham. That seemed appropriate, since I remembered how Jesus had told his disciples in Matthew 23:6-12 how ministers should be honored with titles like "Rabbi" or "Father."
But Dr. Graham was really a humble man, for even though he was honored by all, he was always taking the opportunity to honor others. I remember how he always honored my favorite football players. He knew that friendship with the world is friendship with God, and whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself a friend of God, as it says in James 4:4. He loved the world, and the things of the world, as it says in 1 John 2:15, proving that the love of God was in him. He honored singers and movie stars and politicians, who also must have been blessed, since the whole world spoke well of them. I knew, too, from Luke 16:15 that the things that are highly esteemed among men are also very pleasing to God.
So it was fine that Dr. Graham had his star among the actors of Hollywood, even though he wasn't an actor himself. Why, in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, the apostle Paul told how servants of God like Billy Graham never had to masquerade righteousness, for they were only seeking the glory of the one who sent them, as Jesus said in John 7:18.
How he loved the world! "Like father, like son," as the old saying goes. It brought to my mind when Jesus spoke to the religious leaders of his day in John 8:39-44, and how he appreciated the way they did the deeds of their father also, and how he took identity with them. They were of the seed of Abraham and wanted to do the deeds he did. He said such wonderful things about them, and how they only wanted to do the desires of their father.
But the most wonderful thing that I remember Billy Graham for is how he preached the very same gospel as did the first evangelists and apostles in Acts 2:38-45 and 4:32-37, and with the very same results. It describes there how 3000 people responded to the gospel by giving up their old lives and all their possessions, and how they lived together and shared all things in common. I clearly remembered how at every Billy Graham Crusade thousands of people responded to the gospel in exactly the same way, giving up all their possessions and sharing all they had with each other. Why, this is the foundation and pattern that was established in Acts 2 & 4, which the Christian Church is built upon.
It's so amazing that after 2000 years we see all of Billy Graham's converts living the very same way the first disciples did. Just as Acts 2:44 says, all who believe as in John 3:16, then and now, live together in community. Jesus said you can recognize a good tree by its fruit, and even today we see the very same fruit as in Acts 4:32-37 everywhere Billy Graham's gospel is preached. This proves that the gates of hell have not prevailed against the church, as it says in Matthew 16:18, for it is still thriving upon the same foundation, following the same Judean pattern, just as Paul praised the Thessalonians for in 1 Thessalonians 2:14.
Billy Graham is also well known for the unity he brings about, just as Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-23. This shows that he must truly be like the apostles in John 17:20-21, for his word causes all of his converts to live in perfect unity, so that they all agree and there are no divisions among them, but they are perfectly united in mind and judgment, just as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10. So of course there are no denominations, and everyone loves one another just as Jesus commanded in John 13:34-35 so that the whole world recognizes them as His true disciples. Surely the fruit of his gospel shows that it must be the only true gospel, and not another gospel, as Paul warned the Corinthians about in 2 Corinthians 11:2-4.
I know that Billy Graham is obeying the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 because of how I was saved back in 1954 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He taught me, just as he did all of his converts, to obey the very same commands that Jesus commanded his first disciples. Rev. Graham's message was centered on Luke 14:26-33, where he quoted the very words of Jesus showing what everyone had to do to follow Him and be His disciple to have eternal life, just as the first disciples in Mark 10:28-30. I surely didn't want to hang onto my possessions and walk away sad as the Rich Young Ruler did in Mark 10:17-22.
The counselor showed me Mark 10:28-30, where I came to assurance that I would receive two things: 1) persecution (and boy, don't Billy Graham's converts get it!), and 2) eternal life. He also explained to me Mark 14:3-9, where the woman broke the alabaster jar and poured everything out on the Savior, so it became clear to me that I would have to pour out everything I had on His Body, which is the church. I knew I had met the true Savior, just as he described Him as the "greater king" in Luke 14:31-33, and I heard what I had to do in order to meet the terms of peace with this Greater King.
He was also careful to tell me how Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 that a good soldier of Christ does not get involved in the things of the world. But then I learned that God gives us all things richly to enjoy, and as long as I didn't love them, then it would be OK, as 1 John 2:15 says. I was assured that I knew Jesus, and that I was not a liar, because I knew His commandments, as it says in 1 John 2:4. My preacher once told me to say over and over again, "I know that I know that I know that I'm saved," and so I believe it, and no one can convince me otherwise, which was the purpose of John's first epistle, as is so clear in 1 John 5:13, in the King James Version.
I learned to live the way the first disciples lived in Acts 2:44-45 and 4:32-37, so this is how I live my life in my home with my family, by going to church on Sunday. Now I work for IBM, being a good witness on the job, and I give a tenth of my income (or whatever is left after I pay all the bills) to the church, and I try to be good, and read my Bible every day, and I know this must be the witness of the kingdom Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24:14. I'm sure that is what will bring Jesus back to earth again, and bring about His kingdom -- this very same gospel that both Billy Graham and the first apostles preached is that witness. I know my job at IBM is that witness to the world, just as 2 Timothy 2:4 says a good soldier of Christ should be.
I'm so thankful, as Jesus said in John 17:16, that I'm of the world but not in it, just like all the Christian football players and movie stars as they carry on their occupations for a witness to the world, to show who His disciples are... not.