"Is Eric Metaxas the Next Chuck Colson?" That was the jarring Washington Post headline a couple of days ago. At least it was jarring to me, because the simple answer is an emphatic NO. But a more nuanced answer would be a very qualified "yes," but I'll get to that in a minute.
The author of the article, Sarah Pulliam Bailey of Religion News Service, interviewed me last month. We had a great conversation. I wasn't tickled that she mentioned a vicious review of my Bonhoeffer book, but it was a decent article nonetheless. Still, the comparison to Chuck was tough to take, since I revere him so much. Sarah noted in the article that I introduced what became Chuck's last speech just over a year ago. And that soon after he was stricken, I began filling in for him right here on BreakPoint.
I passionately prayed it was just a temporary gig, because I so wanted Chuck to recover. But God had other plans, and here I am.
And yes, I did join the Manhattan Declaration Board in Chuck's stead, mostly because I thought that that's what he would have wanted me to do. And yes, the Lord has blessed me with many opportunities to speak around the country on issues Chuck cared so passionately about.
But as I told Sarah, while I'm deeply grateful to Jesus that Chuck was my mentor, I'm a humorist. I write biographies and poetry and children's books.
Chuck Colson, on the other hand, was a Marine! And an Attorney. And an advisor to the most powerful man in the world at the time. He was also a felon who loved Jesus so passionately he started the world's largest outreach to prisoners: Prison Fellowship. He was a leader for justice reform. He started BreakPoint and the worldview ministry of the Colson Center. He received the prestigious Templeton Award for Progress in Religion, and was awarded the Citizens Medal by President Bush.
So no, I'm not exactly the next Chuck Colson.
But in one sense, and I say this with all humility, I am the next Chuck Colson.
I'm the next Chuck Colson in exactly the way my colleague John Stonestreet is the next Chuck Colson. Chuck poured much of his remaining years into John . . . teaching him, mentoring him. He saw John's passion for teaching Christian worldview to young people. And John is an amazing teacher. If he's ever speaking at a conference or church near you . . . go! I'm thrilled we're partners on BreakPoint.
And there are about 900 other next Chuck Colsons-graduates of our year-long Centurions program that Chuck started. Having deepened their faith and Christian worldview, they're doing amazing things in Jesus' name: ministering in prisons, promoting racial reconciliation, working with business people to better their communities, defending religious freedom, you name it.
Prison Fellowship CEO Jim Liske is also the next Chuck Colson. But so are thousands and thousands of Prison Fellowship volunteers, moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas who bring the light of Christ into the nation's darkest places.
And especially the many thousands of prisoners whose lives were transformed by Christ through Chuck's ministry. They are the next Chuck Colsons.
At Prison Fellowship's headquarters in Virginia, there's a room filled with pictures and memorabilia from Chuck's life. Two quotes from Chuck are emblazoned on the wall: They read:
"I will live every day as if it's my last-knowing by God's grace and love that the Savior waits for me beyond the grave."
And, "Loving God, really loving Him-means living out His commands no matter the cost."
Friends, if you can say those things with Chuck, you, too, are the next Chuck Colson.