My last blog highlighted the faith of Whitney Houston. This one does the same for Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, great country singer, drug addict, alcoholic and jailbird. He’s another example of an imperfect Christian, which is what we all are. The only perfect man who’s ever lived is Jesus Christ, Christians are simply his imperfect followers. I knew that Johnny Cash has made a famous quote about his faith, but when searching for it I found a few more. I thought I’d share some with you.
The quote I had searched for says, “Being a Christian isn’t for sissies. It takes a real man to live for God – a lot more man than to live for the devil.” Johnny Cash is spot on. Christians are often portrayed as weak, needing our faith as a psychological crutch to lean on, but if we wanted a crutch we wouldn’t choose Christianity. When you become a Christian you end up like Jesus who was an outcast, “despised and rejected”. (1) You can be mocked, sidelined, considered not very bright, weak, and on it goes. In many countries you can be beaten, given the most menial jobs if any job at all, rejected by family, and even killed by them as an honour killing. Christianity is definitely not for sissies but that doesn’t mean we’re all born with a strong character. We’re normal people who simply trust in God in all circumstances and know that nothing bad can happen to us unless he wills it. Many years ago three men were threatened by a king because they refused to worship him. They were going to be thrown into a furnace where they would be burned to death. They said to the king, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (2) They were thrown into the furnace but walked out unharmed. The attitude of these men is what Christians have. If we take Covid as an example, many Christians have caught it and lost their lives, but our attitude is that God will protect us but if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. He’s the great God and his will is what’s important. We obey his will and trust him in all things. Another quote of Johnny Cash was, “God gives us life and takes us away as he sees fit.”
Johnny Cash also said, “When God forgave me I figured I’d better do it too.” Those are very wise words. God forgives us when we come to Jesus Christ. For reason, we’ll never understand God loves us despite the awful way we have treated him. We rebelled against him, we mock him, we shut him out of our lives, we curse him, we blame him for everything bad in this world, but still, he loves us. How do we know he loves us? His Son Jesus died for us. This is not a myth, it is a historically attested fact (see, for instance, the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus). The man called Jesus was crucified as a common criminal. What Josephus didn’t know is that God had planned for this to happen. God chose to let his Son die to free us from sin’s hold on us and bring us back to himself. When we believe that Jesus died for us and accept him as our Saviour, that’s when God forgives us.
Johnny Cash, despite his failings, knew that Jesus had died for him and that he was forgiven. He never doubted that he had an eternal future. He also realised that if he was to live as a Christian believing in the forgiveness of God it was possible to forgive himself. He could look back on his life and his mistakes and forgive himself for them. Why not? After all, God had forgiven him. As he continued in life he continued to make mistakes. We all do, but being famous his were broadcast. Each time he went wrong he went back to God and saw again that he was loved and forgiven. The cross proved it. Again he could say if God has forgiven me I can forgive myself. Guilt is a terrible thing, weighing us down and stopping us from enjoying the lives God had planned for us. If we trust in Jesus and live for him we can know God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves too. What has caused the guilt is in our past, a past that is gone. When you become a new Christian you become a new person and that guilt has nothing to do with the new you. If you’re burdened by your guilt, come to Jesus.
- Isaiah 53:3
- Daniel 3:17,18