Imagine that. A guy who used to be one of the most annoying celebrities in the world (and one of the most hated men online) is a Christian. I feel confident to call him a Christian because he was raised to know Jesus, has been recently baptized, has a pastor that he’s accountable to, prays before he goes to work and has given thousands of dollars to those in need.
Yeah. I think Justin Bieber might be an even better Believer than me.
(And I agree with 99% of what he said in the video above.)
A few months ago Justin was at the annual Hillsong Conference in Australia. He’s been promoting the event, posting pictures of himself there and even quoting scripture (while wearing a Marilyn Manson Anti-Christ T-shirt). And he posted this:
Developing my relationship with God – the coolest thing I’ve experienced, to know I’m not alone & don’t have to live in fear. – Justin Bieber
Back in March Comedy Central aired The Roast of Justin Bieber. Martha Stewart, Kevin Hart, Shaq, Will Ferrell, and a bunch of other famous people seemed excited to be there, and excited to take him down. Everything I saw about it was brutal (somewhat pleasing) but still brutal.
The thing is, Justin asked for it. He submitted himself to the pain. Because he wants the world to know that he is willing to move on. The last few years have become a fulfilment of the kid-pop-star prophesies of old. However, this year seems to be the fulfilment of his actual prophetic destiny in Christ. I naturally want to judge him, but I supernaturally love The Biebs.
And whether we like him or not, that’s our baby brother! It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child. And maybe for a celebrity of that magnitude, it takes the whole family of Christ. We don’t have to buy his albums, or watch his movies, or follow him on Twitter… he’s got a million teenage girls doing that already.
But at least stop hating.
The kid The man needs us now more than ever. He’s obviously looking for redemption. It’s time for overwhelming grace to be our message to him. It’s the same message I want to hear when I fall. It’s the same one you need when you crash and burn.
[bctt tweet=”Love is not based on the performance of the receiver, but on the character of the giver.”] – Jack Frost, Experiencing Father’s Embrace.
Let me ask you a question, What’s the dumbest thing you have ever done? Do you remember the emotions? The fear of being caught, the shame of being sinful?
Now imagine that every single time you do/say/act in a sinful way, cameras are all around you. Then less than a day later your failure is exposed to about 60% of the world’s population. Imagine not being able to get away with anything. The good, the bad and the ugly in full display!
The truth is, we all sin as much as JB does. The difference is that his transgressions end up in the magazines (the ones we secretly read at the checkout line of the supermarket). While our transgressions stay hidden between our heart and the self-righteousness that says that we’re better than Justin Bieber.
“Nowhere in the Bible, do we find God distinguishing between levels of sin. God doesn’t share our rating system. To him, all sin is equally evil, and all sinners are equally lovable.”
Judah Smith in Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human
This Judah Smith is now Justin’s pastor. Justin heard Judah for the first time on the weekend (and in the same venue) where I did. It was a Fresh Wind Youth Conference in Toronto back in the early 2000’s. The young cool-looking pastor challenged the crowd to surrender to Christ, to give it all for God and to share the Gospel with boldness. Basic true Christianity. No flakiness about it. And that’s the guy Justin reached out to.
Thousands of us were convicted the few sessions Judah Smith preached. Not one of us would have guessed that the most famous pop star in the world was there with us on the floor, surrendering to the Holy Spirit and saying “Yes!” to God.
It was a few years after when he got super-duper famous. Then he grew a ridiculous moustache. Then he got in trouble with the law.
But after attending a Hillsong service last September, Bieber tweeted to the pastor of the NYC campus, Carl Lentz, “Amazing sermon at church this morning. Love you man. I broke down today.” So after all the fame, and the girls, and the weed, and the pain, Justin is back to the same broken place. Saying “Yes!” to God, despite a lot of us in the church saying “No” to him.
In the beginning of the year, I wrote a similar article titled When God Speaks to Katy Perry. I received thousands of comments telling me how weak and unscriptural my Christianity was. Yet, for some weird reason it gave me hope. The critics inspired me to love more. Because sometimes humans fight that which we need most. And every religious condemning voice is looking for the same thing every fleshy unbeliever is… the true Jesus. The one who is accepting and inviting and challenging. The one who is Savior and Friend and King. The Jesus who loves us despite us. Who cares when we don’t. Who forgives when he shouldn’t.
And I know that Jesus has been with Justin in every concert, in every court room, in all his failures and sitting right next to him during the roast. Because even when the church has abandoned the annoying artist, God still loves his precious son.
At the end of the Roast, Justin took a couple of minutes to share from his heart. Many assume that he was faking it (I choose to believe his words). He said, “There was really no preparing me for this life. I was thrown into this at 12 years old. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. There were moments I am proud of. And there are moments I am disappointed with myself for. But the things I have done don’t define who I am. I am kind-hearted person who loves people. And through it all, I have lost some of my best qualities. For that, I’m sorry.”
“I am looking forward to being someone you can all be proud of. Someone close to me once said, ‘It’s how you rise from a fall that truly defines you as a man.’ I’m excited for that challenge. And I want to say thank you for taking this journey with me.”
He finished by saying, “Thank you, God, for your grace and for never giving up on me.”
Yes baby bro, we are taking this journey with you. I know from his old pastors and friends in Stratford, that Justin has been called by God to shine. This road was prophesied. His mom did an incredible job teaching the boy grace and kindness. He is properly talented and destined for greatness. So we lift him up the man together, and we stand in hope for his ultimate calling.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
We all have a Justin Bieber in our lives. So practice the biblical invitation of devotion, love and honor with “the most annoying celebrity in the world.” Then, become a master at it with those around you that drive you insane.
Because sometimes the people who are harder to love, actually need it the most.
*Pastor Judah’s new book: Life Is _____.: God’s Illogical Love Will Change Your Existence. So very good!
Justin’s mom, Pattie Mallette has a great book titled: Nowhere but Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom. Get it today.
Other articles of Jesus in Hollywood: