In 1957 Billy Graham came to a crowd of 3,000, in Urbana, Illinois with a rebuke. These young people had come from all over to attend an InterVarsity conference so these were engaged, interested young Christians. But it was precisely their interest and engagement that Graham was questioning. They served the one true God. Their Savior had triumphed over death, and secured for them eternal life. They had every reason to be zealous, to be fanatics.
But were they?
In 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan tells a story to King David about a heartless rich man, and reveals to David at the end, “You are that man!” At the conference Billy Graham read an excerpt from a letter – a letter by a true fanatic – to reveal to his listeners that, “You are not this man.” It was by a young convert to communism, who was explaining to his fiancée why he was breaking off their engagement.
We Communists don’t have the time or the money for many movies, or concerts, or T-bone steaks, or decent homes and new cars. We’ve been described as fanatics. We are fanatics. Our lives are dominated by one great overshadowing factor, the struggle for world communism.
We Communists have a philosophy of life which no amount of money could buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty, personal selves into a great movement of humanity, and if our personal lives seem hard, or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us in his small way is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind. There is one thing in which I am in dead earnest and that is the Communist cause. It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife and mistress, my bread and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night. Its hold on me grows, not lessens as time goes on. Therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating it to this force which both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas, and actions according to how they affect the Communist cause and by their attitude toward it. I’ve already been in jail because of my ideas and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.
This zealot worshipped a false god. In comparison, our God in infinitely greater – the one true God who made all of reality: the Earth, the stars, the animals, everything. And He sent his very own Son to die for us. This, then, is a God worthy of all honor!
Yet, are we willing to make everything – our ego, our ambitions, our business, and our relationships – secondary to Him? Do we love Him like that? How do we compare to this young zealot?
In Revelation 2, God congratulates the Church at Ephesus for their toil, their perseverance, and their discernment. But there was a problem: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first…” The Christians in Ephesus had a lot going for them but they had stopped being fanatical.
After what God has done for us – He made us, and He saved us – He deserves so much better than a lukewarm love.
So here’s a question for us all: am I a fanatic? Would anyone say that about me?
Or do I need to repent?