I thought it an unusual name: J. R. Stott. The title of the book: “Basic Christianity,” seemed ridiculously unimaginative to me, an arrogant, know-it-all, 20 year old. Its contents: became foundational to my new found faith. His impact on me: has been significant and will be eternal.
His credentials include:
• The Leading Evangelical Expository Preacher of his era
• A Founding Framer of the Lausanne Covenant
• Author of More than 50 books
• Mentor to hundreds of aspiring preachers
• Spiritual Father to countless thousands
Jim Riley and I heard him speak at All Soul’s Church where he preached for more than 60 years. Afterwards, we shook his hand and shared our great appreciation for his years of faithfulness to the gospel.
“Have we met before…? Ah yes, I remember my time at Malone College with great fondness. Are they holding on to Jesus and His Word?”
He graciously agreed to sign ten copies of his then, latest book.
“Why did you choose “Why I Am a Christian” as the title for this book?”
“Oh, you see, it may well be my last…I’m not quite up to pace…and I wanted there to be no doubt about where I stood. I am first and foremost a Christian! There you have it, more than a preacher, more than anything; I want all to know what is primary in my life.”
He continued autographing the books I had requested and thanked me for sharing my appreciation for his impact upon my faith. He expressed his gratefulness previous books had impacted to my faith but asked pointedly… “Your faith, it is a faith in Jesus, is it not?”
Paul Simon (the recording artist – not the two Apostles) requested an audience with Stott a few years ago. Simon harshly criticized many members of the “religious right.” After patiently listening for a while, Stott interrupted the world renowned musician: “I am more interested in what you think of Jesus Christ.”
There have never been any neon lights at Langham Place or any flashing lights in the Sanctuary of All Souls Church. There hasn’t even been a spot light on the pulpit. No, Stott was never glitzy, but for ninety years he was a “reflected light” in the center of London – a non-sophisticated man who faithfully reflected the light of his Lord and Savior: Jesus.
John R. Stott was one of the most humble, Christ-like men I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting. He preached the truth of God’s Written Word each Lord’s Day from the pulpit and shared the Love of the Living Word – Jesus - in each moment and every relationship of his life. The legacy of John R. Stott will only truly be known in heaven but I for one can attest to the fact he knew “Why He was a Christian” as can all who heard him say: “I am more interested in what you think of Jesus Christ.”
By the way, what do you think of Jesus Christ?