I don’t mean that in a name-dropping way. Oh, I met him once at a private gathering in Phoenix several years ago, but I doubt he would have remembered it. What I mean is that I consider him a dear friend of the Church, a dear friend of the Kingdom of God, and therefore a dear friend of mine. I knew that in many cultural circles to profess friendship with Mr. Falwell would have been the “kiss of death.” That would also have been true in some religious circles. Certainly there were some issues I might have had with him and also some political areas of disagreement. And of course there were several Falwell statements made over the years which made me cringe. But that would have been true of any public figure I knew.
Jerry went to be with the Lord just ten years ago. In my estimation, I believe the Church of Jesus Christ has lost one of its greatest warriors. The one opportunity I had to talk with him I thanked him personally for taking the heat for all of us. He simply smiled and said, “Well, someone has to do that.” He was very anti-abortion. So am I. But he went public with his opposition in places where it cost him. I have never had that experience. Not only was he against abortion, but he organized a network of alternative homes and workers to care for those children whose mothers—and there were many of them—had second thoughts and decided against taking their unborn babies to the death chambers. I never thought of doing something like that.
Even in his death many in the media had a hard time speaking kindly of him or even giving him the benefit of the doubt of having possessed a life well-lived. So polarizing was his influence in this life that many will never give him anything but the hatred they think is due him. But even Jerry Falwelll would laugh and shrug it off while reminding us of one of Jesus’ statements: “Beware when all men speak well of you.”
There is another one of Jesus’ statements I feel should be associated with this bold and courageous Christian warrior. It is from the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12). Jerry Falwell is no longer fighting by our side, because he has long since claimed the reward Jesus promised him and all of us who dare to fight the good fight of faith.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship