It is so easy to pile on Justin Bieber. He may be a megastar with millions of fans and a kajillion dollars to his name but there is something about him that seems to invite criticism. He has been the target of mean spirited jokes from the media for years. That is to be expected in the public spotlight today.
There is also a temptation as a believer, not a belieber as his fans call themselves, to join in the chorus of mockery and unkindness. As a Christian, it can be really easy to be drawn to pick on someone like the Biebs. He is not “my kind of Christian” and messes up a lot. We feel the need to separate ourselves from what he is doing. “He is a bad Christian or not a Christian at all, I am not like that” is the reflexive message. It is understandable to some degree but it is right?
Is Justin Bieber a Christian? He says he is.
On one hand, Justin Bieber is a high profile person who openly proclaims the name of Jesus to thousands who come to see him. That is awesome!
Yet, on the other, he is also very much publicly shockingly imperfect. He is clearly flawed and has been caught on camera being that way on many occasions. He is a very public Christian who also openly seems to be very confused or perhaps immature Christian.
He is also often a bad role model in some ways as a Christian. Cavorting with prostitutes is not in any way a good thing.
Since he lives his life in front of millions, the bad examples are broadcast across the globe. When he partakes in sinful pursuits, it doesn’t just stay in his living room. Millions immediately know that the Christian Bieber has done something bad and every one of those people has an opinion.
Have we been tempted to join in and add our voices to the chorus? Have we scorned Justin Bieber’s proclamation of Jesus as tainted by his actions?
How should we as believers respond to people like Justin Bieber and others in the public eye who say they are Christian but at times just don’t seem very Christian?
When answering this question, it is helpful to look at what makes us Christian. At its core, is our ability to call ourselves followers of Christ based upon anything that we do?
Is it because we attend church? How about Bible reading? Are we Christians because we like Christian music or refrain from drinking?
Are we Christians because we don’t sin or only provide good examples for other people? (We sure hope not, right?)
Of course not! No is the clear answer.
Our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, right?
When the Philippian jailer asks what he must do to be saved what is the answer? Straighten up, fly right and sing only gospel songs and never mess up?
No, again of course not! Paul and Silas answered the Jailer immediately and provided the simple answer – believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved!
It is an awesome message given in response to a very bad man. Jailers in the ancient world were truly terrible people.
Nothing that we do earns us salvation. God’s grace upon God’s faith is a free gift from Him to us through Jesus. If we have to pay for a free gift than it is by definition no longer a free gift.
So no works are required to be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved.
Justin Bieber says quite openly that He believes on the Lord Jesus as his Savior. So what does that make him?
It should mean that he is one of our brothers in Christ. Jesus shed his blood for each and every one of us so that we can become brothers and sisters in Him. He says that we will be known as His disciples by the love we have for one another.
Is making fun of or criticizing another believer expressing love for them?
Again, of course not! Just like the people we share a pew with every week, we may not agree with everything that another Christian does but we should not be making fun of them. We should not be casting them aside as Christians because they sin, even when they fall greatly.
Just like the people we share a pew with every week, we may not agree with everything that another Christian does but we should not be making fun of them. We should not be casting them aside as Christians because they sin, even when they fall greatly.
When Paul writes his letter to the Corinthians, he is writing to a church that has truly lost its way. They are drinking, carousing, being sexually immoral and generally acting like ancient world pop stars. Yet, Paul calls them brethren, brothers and sisters. He calls them saints despite their conduct.
We are not saints because we are good. We are saints because Jesus died for us.
What about James? The Book of James says faith without works is dead, right? Where are Justin Bieber’s works that we like to look for in people’s lives? He is so confusing!
Well, Bieber would not be confusing if he did not make his faith public. He would just be another lost pop star. Bieber’s public proclamation of his faith seems clear and unmistakeable. Millions of people know that he is Christian. They hear him proclaiming Jesus despite his own failures and stating that he is loved by the King of Kings. It is not done perfectly, but he is speaking to many about his faith. That seems to be quite a bit of
Bieber’s public proclamation of his faith seems clear and unmistakeable. Millions of people know that he is Christian. They hear him proclaiming Jesus despite his own failures and stating that he is loved by the King of Kings. It is not done perfectly, but he is speaking to many about his faith. That seems to be quite a bit of works.
If he comes out and contradicts that or preaches a different Gospel, that is a different story. But Jesus proclaimed imperfectly by a flawed person is what we are called to do as Christians.
Well, then what about all the sin? All we see is sin, right?. It is just so disappointing!
How would we like to live our lives on a completely public stage? How would we do if all of our actions were watched and photographed? If the things that we keep private and hidden were on display for all the world to see?
Now how about living that life as a teenager with millions of dollars and complete freedom to do what we want? With millions of people who idolize us. When even the Christian influences in our life are out to get something from us? How do we think we would do?
Most of us at that age wouldn’t make it very far until we drove into our own very large, very public pothole.
It is not excusing the sin to understand the challenges, empathize with our brother and praise the Lord for the good things that Justin Bieber does. It is not accepting a bad lifestyle to pray for the young man’s walk and hope that he avoids further pitfalls.
It is also not unreasonable to acknowledge that he is not a role model. Not everyone can be Tim Tebow and that is ok.
Everyone has a different walk with the Lord. Some are further ahead of us. Some are further behind us. How other sheep in our flock are doing is ultimately the responsibility of the Shepherd. He takes way better care of them than we could ever do.
So we may not like Justin Bieber’s music or his style. We may not be beliebers. We may shield our children from his mixed example and see the faults in his walk. But we should never exclude him from the family of God simply because his sins are public. We should pray for him and hope that he grows in his walk with Jesus.
We should never join in the chorus of mockery and derision against one who Jesus gave His life for.
For how will the world know that we are Jesus’ disciples?