A common comment I can get from my secular friends is about how ‘soft’ they think Christians are. Quite often they, and the wider media, can describe us as ‘bleeding hearts’, as people who get taken in too easily, who are too trusting and who are easily taken advantage of.
Now, there is some kernel of truth in some of that as so many of the Church’s safeguarding abuses have come about from being too trusting of certain individuals and thinking the best, rather than the worst, of them. However, the stereotype of Christians is often undeserved, and some of the strongest people have been and are Christians.
Take the original ‘Man in Black’ -the late Country singer and actor Johnny Cash. Now he was no ‘softie’. He lived through the Depression, helped dig the grave of his beloved brother at the tender age of just 12, was infamous for smashing up hotel rooms, involved in numerous car crashes whilst on drugs and was arrested no less than 7 times. He became a Christian as a boy but saw himself as the ultimate ‘sinner’ who was not faithful to God, but God was to him. With his life spiralling out of control and unable to address his drug addiction, he retreated to a cave in Tennessee to die, but whilst there he recalled the God and faith of his childhood, was granted an epiphany, and was re-born.
Johnny Cash got it right when he later said :
“Being a Christian isn’t for sissies. It takes a real person to live for God, a lot more person than to live for the devil, you know? If you really want to live right these days, you gotta be tough”
Another tough living individual is ‘Alice Cooper’ (real name Vincent Furnier) one of the ultimate heavy rockers whose glam rock anthem ‘School’s Out’ (1972) was banned by the BBC but is still selling copies today. Remember that this is the same ‘Alice Cooper’ who gained worldwide infamy for his onstage antics and his ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ series of gigs . But the real Alice Cooper knows just how important being a Christian is.
He talks openly about being saved twice by God, the first when he survived a serious operation and the second when he realised his life was failing badly. He was drinking with the likes of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Keith Moon who all died in their 20s or 30s and knew he was on that same path of destruction. He returned to his boyhood faith and rededicated his life to Jesus.
Alice Cooper also questions how Christians are seen and sees no conflict between being a follower of Jesus and being an entertainer:
“Being a Christian is something you just progress in. You learn. You go to your Bible studies and you pray. There’s nothing in Christianity that says I can’t be a rock star. People have a very warped view of Christianity. They think it’s all very precise and we never do wrong, that we’re praying all day and that we are all right-wing. It has nothing to do with that”.
He sums it up well when he says:
“Drinking beer is easy. Trashing your hotel room is easy. But being a Christian, that’s a tough call. That’s rebellion.”
Now this does not mean that you all have to find a hard mean streak in order to live your faith, but it does show that by being a Christian we are choosing a hard and an unfashionable road to go down, where there will be challenges that we will need to overcome, and we may be ridiculed or mocked for what we believe in. In Luke 14:27 Jesus teaches us about that cost:
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple”
As both Johnny Cash and Alice Cooper would testify that is the toughest gig of all, but as true disciples remember this, we know the love God has for us and that truth allows us to love others which is what it is all about.