When a country music superstar goes off the rails and makes headlines doing it, the general public shakes their heads and remembers other celebrity faux pas moments (like George Jones getting a DUI on a riding lawnmower and Johnny Cash getting busted for pills in the 1960s, Wynonna Judd and Glen Campbell both getting DUIs in 2003, Hank Williams Jr. getting charged with assault in 2006 or Willie Nelson getting caught with marijuana on his tour bus in 2010).
When Hollywood "royalty" looses their grip and gets coverage on every news network out there (think Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Grant and the prostitute he was with), we watch the trainwreck of their lives unfold and talk about how they're spoiled by the fame.
The same goes for famous athletes, Top 40 artists, politicians and business tycoons. We watch, we wonder how they could be so stupid as to throw their lives away, and we move on. However, let someone who has proclaimed Christ do something stupid that gets them arrested. Suddenly, for non-believers and those just looking to cash in on the headlines, God Himself is under scrutiny and our entire faith system is questionable at best. Randy Travis' latest run in with the law is a prime example.
While most of the articles refer to Travis as a "country singer" or simply by name, others seem to have missed his 25+ years in the country music industry and his 22 #1 country music hits. After all, if they focus on the actual history instead of five gospel albums, they can't really call him a "Christian Music Star" and have a great excuse to make snarky comments about Christianity. One such headline reads, "Drunk and naked Christian music star Randy Travis threatens cop's life" and they report "the arrest marks his second encounter with police this year after a DUI arrest in February. That’s in spite of an interview he gave to Christianity Today in 2009, in which he claimed that his faith in the Christian deity helped him quit drinking alcohol in his mid-20s." This, in turn, has opened up a veritable floodgate of nasty comments (over 350 at last count) about Christianity, Republicans, religion, God, "imaginary deities," the Tea Party, people who follow Jesus, well known preachers ... the list goes on and on.
Do I condone the downhill spiral that Randy Travis is on? By no means! The man quite obviously has a serious problem with alcohol and isn't happy in his life. Should we excuse him because he's got a ton of GRAMMY's, Dove Awards, and Academy of Country Music Awards on his mantle? Again, no way. Should we attack Christianity because one person made some really bad choices? Not at all.
Perhaps there are people out there that confuse Christianity with perfection. If that's the case, then here is a huge news flash for them ... those of us who follow Jesus aren't perfect at all; we're simply forgiven and there is a big difference. We will make mistakes. We will stumble and fall. Sometimes, we will even do it more than once, not learning from our mistakes to keep from making them again because we're just that miserable in our lives. We may need your forgiveness; we will definitely need God's forgiveness and then we will need our own forgiveness because if we don't grant ourselves what God has given us, then His removing "our transgressions from us" "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12) means nothing and the devil will beat us over the head with our sin from here to eternity.
Pray for Randy Travis and the people who love him. Pray that he will accept the hand that Jesus is reaching out to him to pull him out of this hole. Pray that those who are using his mistakes to poke fun at our Savior come to their senses and stop. Don't let the mistakes of one man color us all.