So much of media/pundit lip flapping over the past few election cycles has been devoted to the “Evangelical” vote. The term has been loosely defined at best, if not entirely mischaracterized or downright adulterated at worst. To examine Presidential candidates who would woo the evangelical vote, it is important to note whether they truly understand who it is they seek.
When the average citizen hears the term evangelical, mental imagery will vary from the true meaning, all the way down to some misguided equivocation to cultish demons like Jim Jones and David Koresh, or even Islamic extremism. Unfortunately, the liberal media is more likely than not to hold and espouse such misconceptions.
Evangelical, as defined with general accuracy in most dictionary entries, best describes the individual Christian. It pertains to their role in carrying forth the message of salvation from Jesus Christ, and it is each Christian individual’s overriding purpose in life, as commanded by Jesus, to spread that message throughout the world.
It is an uncomplicated, but difficult concept to grasp, that all are guilty of sin and incapable of standing in the Presence and Glory of God. That only through the sacrifice that Jesus made, to die in our place for our sin, can we once again be made worthy.
Salvation comes when we recognize that by our own actions, no matter how “good” we are, or how “perfectly” we live our lives, we will all fail until we acknowledge that God gave his Son, Jesus, for that purpose, and accept his sacrifice as the only worthy payment for our sin.
It is this message that has been broadly shared for decades by notable Evangelists like Billy Graham. During hundreds of televised crusades, he did not stand at the center of giant stadiums, surrounded by tens of thousands of people, and preach on the evils of smoking, or the perils of drinking alcohol.
Graham did not strive to convince his audience that they should be charitable, and he did not rail on those who fail to get up in time for church on Sunday mornings. Billy Graham’s message was always concerned with the simple declaration that each of us has sinned and has been condemned to eternal separation from God, and that God has invited each one to believe that Jesus paid the price for us, individually.
This message was not invented by charismatic men, seeking fame and fortune. Indeed, most true evangelical leaders throughout history have been characterized more by poverty and persecution, beginning with the original Disciples of Jesus.