It was Justin Bieber’s 18th birthday when I was visiting a friend in Los Angeles. That friend happened to be someone that was working very closely with Bieber. I dropped my friend off to a hotel where Bieber was having his birthday party and I was told that the place was unannounced and not to tell anyone. I sat with another friend at the hotel’s bar and we chatted and prayed for Bieber for couple of hours until our friend came down and we drove him back. I wondered, “Is it possible for someone to be willing to give up so much money, fame, and power for the sake of following Jesus? Would I be willing if I am in Bieber’s shoes?” I kept thinking about the story of the rich young man that met Jesus (Matthew 19). The recent events with Bieber have proven that it is possible and that there are lessons every Christian can learn from him.
Whether you like it or not, Justin Bieber is one of the youngest, most powerful, and most successful artists in history. He was able to sell out his entire US world tour in 60 minutes and both of his concerts in Madison Square Garden in New York City (capacity 20,000) sold out in 30 seconds. Though it’s easy to discount him or to say “I don’t care”, we all have to admit that this young man is one of the most influential individuals alive, especially on the young and upcoming generation.
Bieber has recently been very outspoken about his faith. In his recent interview with Complex Magazine, Bieber spoke in details about his relationship with God. Los Angeles Times recently ran an article about Bieber turning a concert into what looked like a church service, and he prayed at a concert for the family of the victims in the recent Paris attack.
Here are 6 Lessons every Christian can learn from Bieber:
1- We should not judge others in their present condition but have faith for their future.
Sadly, We have all heard it before by other Christians, “There is no hope in such and such”. This should be a learning lesson to the church that it is never too late for anyone and rather than speaking negatively about those in compromise, we must believe and trust that the light that God shines is brighter than any darkness found in Bieber, you, and I.
2- If we don’t have compassion towards someone, we should stay quiet.
Jesus was always driven by compassion, even in His anger. We should not point finger at someone before examining our own hearts. If you don’t feel empathy or sympathy towards Bieber or anyone else, your priority should be praying for your own heart. Otherwise, we are doing the same thing the pharisees did with the woman caught in adultery. If you don’t feel compassion for someone, ask God to share with you His feelings about them and don’t say a word until you have it.
Jesus was always driven by compassion, even in His anger.
3- We are called to be a light in the dark. Most Christians escape darkness. Bieber doesn’t.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others…” Matthew 5:14 (NIV)
Overall, Christians stay distance from non-Christians because it’s easier and safer to get busy with the church and other Christians than to face the tension of dealing with the challenges a non-Christian may bring to the table. However, hiding and avoiding were never part of the Gospel.
Find your calling and be a light in darkness. Stop hiding behind church programs and activities.
4- Boldly Pursue your calling and you may end up touching many lives.
From a young age, Bieber pursued his love for music and it got him where he is today. Many Christians have passions and talents but they are afraid or uncomfortable of pursuing them. A lesson we can learn from Bieber is that going after our passion can open doors that change lives. This is related to the point above but it’s not the same. One is about being willing to be in the world (but not of it) and submerge ourselves in society and the other is about taking risks for what we love.
5- Immaturity and Insincerity are not the same.
We can all expect a lot of Christians and non-Christians keeping a close eye on Bieber’s actions so that when he screws up they can say, “Look! what a hypocrite”. I’ve already heard someone say, “There is no way he is a true Christian. His latest video was so sexual!” We can’t preach two contradicting messages. One that says that “Jesus wants you as you are” and another that says “Fix yourself first or you are not really sincere”. If we do, we are being hypocrites. Remember, immaturity and insincerity are a completely different thing. A good father never yells at his two-year old child for not knowing how to subtract and multiply. Maturity takes time. Pray for maturity and wisdom in Bieber’s and your own life and don’t confuse immaturity with insincerity.
6- Stand for your faith no matter how unpopular it can be.
Bieber’s recent actions, being outspoken about his faith, is risky move for his career. It is unpopular and politically incorrect to talk about Jesus the way he does. It can hurt his popularity and even offend a lot of his fans. It can also put him under more fire the next time he makes a mistake. However, Bieber is boldly speaking of his love for Jesus, his need for the cross, his own weaknesses, and his desire to be a better person. This should be a lesson to all of us on the importance of speaking of our faith, no matter how imperfect we are or unpopular it can be.
Here is a music video of one of the most played songs on Bieber’s iPod according to an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine.
I encourage you to take this blog post to your small group and ask the hard questions on how the body can do a better job with compassion, how to be a light in darkness, and how to step out of the comfort of the church walls.
What are your thoughts? Comment Below.
– Johnny Youssef