August 20, 1996
Television, books, the Internet, multi-cultural events, travel, immigration, and even radio have made us more aware of the differences in world cultures. Languages and dialects number in the thousands. So do food preferences, modes of transportation and ways to make a living. World views vary as much as genetic makeup and cultural background. We are neighbors, yet so dissimilar. Is there anything that we all have in common?
Billy Graham says all people share five distinctive problems, no matter their culture or where they live. He says everyone struggles with emptiness, loneliness, guilt, a need to believe in something meaningful and fear of death.
Dr. Graham addresses those needs and fears with the timeless message of the Gospel. God’s good news transcends cultures, languages, lifestyles and world views because it is a message from Him to all people of all time.
EMPTINESS is a sense of feeling incomplete, even insignificant and valueless. The things of this world lure us but none of them satisfy us for very long. The Gospel fills that void. In believing, we receive Jesus — who is more than enough to satisfy all our longings. The message itself tells us the value we have in the sight of God; to Him, we are worth the price of His Son. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”
LONELINESS is the deep desire for intimacy that even our closest relationships fail to satisfy. As Graham says, we have a God-shaped void in our heart. People may seem to fill it for a while but in the long term, only God fits perfectly. To those who believe, Christ becomes a constant companion, One who knows us intimately and allows us to know Him the same way. Further, He promises, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you...”
GUILT is every person’s condition under the high standards of God. While guilt can sometimes be a sense of failing to measure up to our own expectations, that universal guilt that everyone feels at some point in their lives is being guilty before God. When we feel it, no amount of good we can do will counterbalance the deep conviction of doing wrong, even of being wrong. The Gospel is the only lasting remedy for this guilt. Because Jesus died for sinners, God can forgive us — totally. Jesus bore our guilt “that we might become the righteousness of God.”
MEANINGFUL BELIEF. People also want to believe in something meaningful. What could be more significant than faith in God and His Good News? He promises an eternal future and a present “abundant life” to those who do believe and follow His Son.
FEAR OF DEATH is probably the greatest common bond. It is evidenced in the money spent to find cures for diseases, even cosmetics to cover aging, death’s precursor. Some cultures seem to treat “life as cheap” but that is true only in those who take it from someone else. Each person enjoying life wants to remain that way. However, death is one certainty no one can avoid, at least it used to be. Two thousand years ago, Christ died too, but He conquered that great enemy. The Bible says “by His death, He destroyed him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and sets free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
For those who believe in Jesus, fear is replaced with deep assurance. Though we must go through that dark valley of physically dying, because Jesus walks with us, we know that is not the end but merely a transition to endless life.
Because of these five elements we have in common, Christ is for everyone and the Good News applies to all — all who believe in and follow Him.