A Lightning Rod
August 1, 2002 - A few weeks ago I was invited to New York City to give the invocation at a dinner honoring businesses that have been leaders in the fight against AIDS. The event was sponsored by the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, headed by Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Emceed by Dan Rather, news anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News, the event drew prominent figures from the worlds of politics, business and entertainment, including former President Bill Clinton, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and MTV Networks CEO Tom Freston.
by Franklin Graham
I’m passionate about fighting AIDS too, and I wanted this elite and influential audience to be aware of the Christian response. But that wasn’t the main reason I went to New York. And I certainly wasn’t there to rub shoulders with celebrities.
I went to New York to lift up the name of Jesus Christ. That’s my mission wherever I speak, from Columbine to Capitol Hill. The Gospel isn’t always popular or politically correct. But it’s the truth, and that’s precisely what makes it so urgent.
I’ve been known to offend some listeners by praying in Jesus’ name in public ceremonies. In New York, I’m happy to report, the Gospel message was received politely—even if it may not have been politically correct. And I’m sure that some people felt uncomfortable.
My new book, "The Name," explores why Jesus is so controversial. How can a world that exalts tolerance be so intolerant of Christians and what we stand for? As I have written, "The name of Jesus Christ is a lightning rod because Jesus Christ represents the division of life between good and evil, God and Satan, light and darkness, righteousness and sin, heaven and hell. The name of Jesus shouts out a choice: ‘Whom will you serve, give your life to, depend on?’ "(1)
Christians should never be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is power in His name, and people in unlikely places are ready to hear it. The audience in New York needed to hear that God cares for people who are plagued by AIDS. And, more than that, the audience needed to know how much Jesus Christ loves them—and how He expects them to respond. They needed to know that there is no other way to serve, to obey or to know God. They needed to know about the power of the name of Christ. Our responsibility is to tell them.
Jesus is Lord. That is not negotiable. The day is coming when all the world will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord: "God ... has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, ... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."(2)