Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Man in Black

On September 12, 2003, Johnny Cash, “the man in black” died. A music icon known not only for his black clothing but also for his deep, gravely voice, Cash was one of the earliest artists to successfully move between such diverse musical genres as blues, rock and roll, country, and gospel. His music dealt openly with the struggles he faced with addiction to amphetamines and later prescription pain medications. In addition to his autobiography, Man in Black, Cash wrote one other novel entitled, Man in White, a book about the life of the Apostle Paul. Johnny Cash’s legacy mirrors that of all Christians—a mixture of saint and sinner. Paul himself described that ongoing tension in his own life in Romans 7 as he wrestled with his old nature—speaking of not doing those things that he desired to do and finding himself doing the very things that he knew he ought to avoid. This same apostle to the Gentiles who in one breath referred to himself as the “chief of sinners” could also encourage Christians to “be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Johnny Cash, like the apostle Paul, encourages us to seek the good in those around us, while at the same time recognizing that we all have feet of clay. May we be able to say with Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain” (1 Cor. 15:10).

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