Men sometimes get to influence their family and occasionally even their friends, but seldom does a man come along that has had such a positive effect, not only in Orange County, but in all of Southern California, across the US, and around the entire world. Chuck Smith was one of those men. Chuck was not a perfect man, but any of the people Chuck influenced would gladly trade their best moments for any of his flaws. Chuck’s purpose in life was to point to someone much, much greater than himself.
Chuck was a humble and unpretentious man. He was the founder and senior pastor of a vast empire fondly known as Calvary Chapel. Calvary includes Murrieta Hot Springs Retreat and Seminary, thousands of churches, large and small, around the world, dozens of radio stations, and much more. I remember spotting him, while attending a conference in Murrieta Hot Springs. This humble senior pastor was driving a tractor like a day laborer, doing whatever chores God had put before him. As he would probably say, he was a joyful bond-servant of Jesus Christ. It reminded me of King David dancing in the streets. The Sunday before he died, he mustered enough strength to preach his final sermon. He died as well as he lived.
Because of him, millions of people throughout the world, myself included, bear the name “Christian”, not because we participate in a religious service once a week, but through Chuck’s infectious example, have a personal relationship with the savior and creator of the universe. Stop and think about this. The one and only God has chosen us to be his ‘friend’for the same reason we have chosen our own friends. We like being with them. There is no other obligation. As father, he loves us with a love that is overwhelming. When we are good, God cheers us on. When we are bad, God helps us to get better. We like being with God almost as much as He likes being with us.
The Calvary Chapel that Chuck left behind bears the mark of his personal relationship with Christ, and will continue on well into the future without him, just as he would have wanted. The thousands of pastors will continue to preach through the Word verse by verse, and tell the world of the joy of being in God’s family, the joy that Chuck demonstrated continuously for the last 60 or more years. Thank you, Chuck, for your grace and consistency.