The news yesterday recorded the passing of Pastor Jerry Falwell, planter and Pastor of the mega-sized Thomas Road Baptist Church and founder of Liberty University. He is most famous in the news for his leadership in it's prime during the late 70's and 80's but lasting through the current decade, of the "religious right". He founded a group called "The Moral Majority" and brought conservative Christian influences to the political and governmental landscape. While it is hard for many of us to agree with absolutely everything he said or did I found myself agreeing much more than disagreeing. His usefulness to our country came at a time when a fresh breath of morality and values were desperately needed in a country left drifting from the disappointments of the 60's and 70's.
He is less known in the media but admired among fellow believers for his work in founding and growing Thomas Road BC and Liberty University. His most lasting achievements will likely be these two organizations. What many in the public failed to see was his deep love for people, his faithfulness to God and his down to earth attitude. Those who knew him personally (I did not)almost always refer to his kind demeanor, unpretentious nature and individual concern for those around him. His humility came through in his own admission that some of the things he said were a little over the top. Unlike many other public figures when he realized this he was usually quick with a PUBLIC admission.
It is a shame that the movement he started did not penetrate our society more deeply. He condemned homosexuality and the radical agenda of the godless voices of the nation but never seemed to lose his love for sinners in need of God's grace. On the day of his death several organizations which have opposed him throughout the years responded with a seemingly happy attitude about his death. Too bad his message could not change the hatefulness of those who would angrily defend their right to debauchery.
I certainly am not saying he was a saint. I am very uncomfortable with many of the things he said and did and some of the criticism levelled at him was justified. I note however that his attitude about his death was very different than those who opposed him. His last message to his church family was, "I am at peace with death".
Agree or not with his agenda but he lived a life that counted. May we do the same.