I'm sure the comments section is about to go nuts. Understandable. I still struggle with the Justin Bieber of a couple years ago. The one that went after photographers, was a bad neighbor, and acted more entitled than a hedge fund child in the Hamptons. I don't really listen to his music. I couldn't really see us being good friends. But man, he's spitting out some truth.
In an interview with Complex magazine, he didn't shy away from talking about his faith. Here are the highlights:
"There’s a lot of really weird stuff going on at churches. You ever flicked on a channel and a late-night church show is on? Sometimes it’s like, 'You better do this or you gon’ die and you gon’ burn in hell!' And you’re like, I don’t want anything to do with this. I’m the same way. I’m not religious. I, personally, love Jesus and that was my salvation. I want to share what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and I think it shouldn’t be ostracized."
"I think that people, as soon as they start hearing me saying I’m a Christian, they’re like, 'Whoa Justin, back up, take a step back.' Also, I do not want to shove this down anyone’s throat. I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus—I could never—I don’t want that to come across weird. He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, he died for our sins. Sometimes when I don’t feel like doing something, but I know it’s right, I remember, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross and dying so that we don’t have to feel what we should have to feel. What Jesus did when he came to the cross was basically say, 'You don’t have to feel any of that stuff.' We could take out all of our insecurities, we could take away all of the hurt, all the pain, all the fear, all the trauma. That doesn’t need to be there. So all this healing that you’re trying to do, it’s unnecessary. We have the greatest healer of all and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it. It’s time that we all share our voice. Whatever you believe. Share it. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in."
"It’s like with God: The whole thing with religion is you present yourself holy and bring your offerings so that God can bless you, when the whole point of the relationship [should be], 'No, I’m gonna do this because he loves me. I’m gonna do this because he’s amazing and not because [I] have to, [but] because [I] want to.' That’s the whole thing with religion that’s been throwing off the people. It’s not a 'have to.' It should be just like a personal relationship. Like, 'Hey, I love you because you first loved me.'"
"If we can understand that we’re all imperfect, let’s come to God and come for his help. You’re not weak by doing that. I think that’s a common misperception of Christians, that you’re being weak because you can’t handle it. None of us can handle this world, dude! It’s eating us alive."
Sure, he's still on a journey. He's still making mistakes. He's going to continue to make mistakes. There's room for some skepticism, as his lifestyle choices are still confusing to many. And I pray that God has placed or is placing people in his life that can speak to that. I'm not suggesting he be the speaker at the next Passion conference. But guys, there's a lot that he gets. And we should be celebrating that.
Listen, I don't know where Bieber stands on Arminianism vs. Calvinism, spiritual gifts, or church discipline. And frankly, I don't care. What I do know is that Justin Bieber believes the core tenets of what I believe: That Christ died to offer a way out of the brokenness that our stupid selves keep leading us into; that God loves us; that He's the only way to find true, lasting fulfillment; and that He always has been and always will be.
And he's saying all that in way that I wish I could. It's raw. It's real. It's restorative.
Bieber and I will likely never agree on every aspect of Christian lifestyle. We'll probably never be best friends. But we can be fellow Christians. And in that sense, I guess you can call me a belieber.
To see other people who, like Bieber, have decided that it's time to tell the world about their faith, you can visit our films page and hear from the likes of Jason Witten, Ryan Ries, Sean Lowe, and Lecrae.
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(Photo via YouTube)