Randy Travis, Christianity, and the rest of us

*I just want to preface this post by stating that it is not my intention to humiliate or further injure the reputation of persons. I merely want to use this story as an illustration to make a larger point.

This morning singer “Randy Travis was arrested Tuesday after he was found naked lying on a roadway in northern Texas and smelling of alcohol,” the second such incident since February (as reported by CNN, http://tinyurl.com/8chhqt4). Over a decade ago, Travis’ conversion made waves in the Evangelical community (e.g. Christianity Today article http://tinyurl.com/cjqexrf), and his song  “Three Wooden Crosses” was a popular Country Gospel hit. He has appeared with many notable pastors, including Pastor John Hagee in San Antonio, Texas.

First, let me just state that I have no issue with Christian fame. I think that people such as Billy Graham have successfully used their public influence to advance the purposes of the Kingdom responsibly. However, there have been many who, because of their fame, have created a stigma in Christianity. Their declaration of faith and public fall have made Christians seem insincere, untrustworthy, and ultimately, hypocritical.

The following points are not to repudiate Randy Travis, instead of just organizing some of my thoughts about the topic of Christianity, fame, and integrity.

#1- Christians should be more focused on character than celebrity.

Reading Romans 8, we understand that God’s ultimate goal is not to make us famous, but to make us into the image of Jesus Christ. Everything that happens to us is used by God to this end. God’s focus is on making us an image of who he is.

In today’s society, we are so celebrity focused that character matters little. Celebrity divorce is commonplace. Stints into rehab are par for course. Few times do we read news stories of people who are living right in a world obsessed with image.

As a church, we must celebrate those who have not just made a confession of faith, but who are living out that confession. Let’s celebrate the deacon who has been faithfully married for 50 years. Let’s celebrate the church member who has been honest in administering their business. Let’s rejoice over those who everyday read their Bible and pray. Let’s emphasize the things are truly important!

#2- Christians need to understand their importance.

The day we declare our allegiance to Jesus, the world starts to watch us with a higher standard in place. We are living testimonies about what God is doing in this world.

Parents who pretend to have a perfect marriage at church while living like hell at home are possibly ruining the future spiritual lives of their children. Those who worship openly at church yet hid their spirituality at work—doing what their worldly colleagues do—are giving bad examples of what Christianity is.  Christians are important because we must represent the Lord to this world.

Paul states of us: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20). We represent and promote Christ. Once we truly understand the profound nature of being a Christian, we must change to accommodate that responsibility.

#3- Men will always make mistakes.

I can’t look down on Randy Travis. Or Jimmy Swaggart. Or Ted Haggard. My sin is just as offensive to God. However, it hasn’t been as public to man.

I pray for these famous Christians because I understand that my own fallibility is just as offensive to God. I need to work on guarding my testimony just as much as they do, not because of celebrity, but because the standard God has put out before us requires the utmost of our effort.

Remember, the easy part is pointing out the sin in another’s life. The hard part is self-examining our own life in order to remove our sin.

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