In my last post about Justin Bieber, I focused heavily on the fact that his past actions had pretty much nothing to do with his faith moving forward. To God, Justin’s sin is the same as mine and any other human, so there is no way we can say that Jesus’s death on the cross means anything different for him. To me that is so awesome. I mean, how great is it that no matter what we have done, where we have been, or how many times we have stumbled, when we seek God he is there for us ready with grace and mercy? That is love. That is amazing. But there is more to the salvation story than just saying I’m sorry and giving Jesus the glory at the end of a song. There has to be a life change, and more specifically a heart change. See when we claim Jesus as our Lord and savior we become a different person, literally. Following along that thought process, here are three more ideas relating to what Justin Bieber said about his faith. These three thoughts focus on what happens after we know what it means to be a Christian and then are welcomed into the body of Christ.
1. Knowledge does not equate to salvation
This is one of the biggest mistakes I made growing up, and it is one many Christians make today. We can get caught up in the knowledge of the bible, the stories and what Jesus said, but we forget that’s all we have, head knowledge. It is not enough to know the bible, we must live it and have it in our hearts (Proverbs 7:3; Matthew 22:37). Now I am in no way question Justin’s heart after what he said in his interview, but I must note that just because he knows what being a Christian is all about does not make him a Christian. I can know everything there is no to know about Canada but that does not make me a Canadian. I must get citizenship through the prescribed process in order to gain access to the benefits of being Canadian. It is the same with being a Christian. To be a Christian one must confess with their mouth and believe with their heart that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). That alone, if done with sincerity, will bring about a change of heart and a commitment to the Lord in both word and in deed. From there it is not enough to talk the talk, as many people say. Believers cannot just say they are Christian for it to be so, for faith without works is not faith at all (James 2:14-26). In a sense a Christian must also walk the walk. People around us must see a change as we begin to live for the glory of God and not for our own. That means we will be different people than we were before. We are actually a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we must leave our old self behind. That means our lives and our worlds will be flipped upside down and will look radically different moving forward. IMPORTANT! All of this change does not mean that Christians are all of a sudden perfect! It does not mean Christians never sin. Instead it means that we try to live like Christ by loving like he loved. Being Christian does not mean we are perfect because we never sin. It means that we are perfect because we have a savior that died for our sins. That is what produces a changed heart and a changed life. This life will end up looking radically different than the life the world wants Christians to lead. Christians can’t just know it, they have to show it, and when they do there is a standard to be met.
2. We are called to judge fellow Christians
Oh no there it is. It’s the ever dreaded word judge. *gasp* How can we do that? People say it all the time, “It is God’s job to judge not ours.” Well those people would be right in one case and wrong in another. When it comes to non-Christians their statement holds true. We cannot use the word of God to judge a non-Christian. It doesn’t make sense because they have not prescribed to that standard. That’s like an American police officer in France arresting a local French person for violating American laws. It just doesn’t work. The same standards don’t apply. Now this does not mean that unbelievers are just disregarded. Jesus still tells us to spread the gospel to everyone in hopes that they might find Him (Matthew 28:16-20). We are still called to love them and interact with them (how else can we share Jesus?), but we do so in a way that shows them their need for Jesus and His love for them. We are not to judge them, that is God’s job.
However, whenever someone claims to be a Christian, the game changes. At this point Jesus calls us to judge one another, in other words: hold each other accountable to the standards that he has set. These standards are not like a checklist to being perfect, but they are simply loving God above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40), not too complex. When Paul and Jesus talk about judging they are not talking about pointing fingers, making assumptions, and taking a holier than thou attitude with the person being judged. Instead they are talking about making sure the fellow believers are acting in a manner that is glorifying to God. Aka upholding the standards he set. In turn, when one person holds another accountable they are holding themselves accountable for the same action (Matthew 7:2). Thus, the two are on the same level of accountability and one is not superior to the other. With Justin, since he has now seemed to claim the faith, he is under this second category. As brothers and sisters in Christ we are to hold him accountable to the words of Christ, just like we hold other brothers and sisters and ourselves accountable. Indeed we are to judge his actions to see if they align with the love, attitude, and commands of Christ.
3. Sometimes we have to disassociate others
But what if those actions don’t align with what Christ commanded? In 1 Corinthians 5:11, Paul talks about not associating with fellow believers who continue down their paths of sinning thinking that nothing is wrong. They are sexually immoral, drunkards, or slanderers and they think that everything is okay for them. To them their lifestyle is still acceptable inside the body of Christ. But in reality it is a cancer and needs to be removed immediately. There is no room for imposters in the body of Christ. In fact they literally cannot exist because it means that they have not truly accepted Christ and are just living a lie, and as believers we are to spot this. So if, keyword if, we read Justin’s interview, see his actions, and there is no change, we should not claim him as a brother in Christ. This means he can no longer be called a Christian, but it does not mean we should ignore him totally. It simply means the manner in which we associate with him has changed from brother to unbeliever. I know all that may sound harsh but it is biblical. If someone is not reflecting the glory of the Lord, then how can they claim to be a follower of Him and remain in the body? Yes we all struggle, and none are perfect. But if someone is living in a way that would indicate that they do not have the light of Christ in them, then the body of Christ should not claim them as a member. That does not mean that they can never be a believer and thus a member of the body. It simply means that their life is not of Christ and therefore they still need to ask Christ into their hearts and begin to live for him. See the church must look different from the rest of the world because it is different, it has Christ. While we can all come to Jesus looking the same, we should leave looking totally different. If this doesn’t happen then we don’t really have Jesus and our actions will prove it. When people see us (Christians) they must see Jesus, and if they don’t then we should not claim the name of Christ. That my friends is using the Lord’s name in vain.
At the end of the day Justin Bieber’s interview should not be something that is dissected by the body of Christ as we decide whether or not he truly is a believer. Oh heavens no. Instead it should be a time of rejoicing as it seems as though another lost sheep has been saved. After all, if Jesus can and does welcome him home like a prodigal son, then why shouldn’t we? Who are we to say that he is not worthy of the love of God because of his past? Are we not worthy then either? We were in the exact same boat as a speeding and drunken pop star, sinners in need of a savior. Yet Jesus loves us and died for us. So let’s stop criticizing a man for stepping out in his faith, and welcome him as a brother in Christ and love on him like Jesus does. But once he is here, once he has been received with open arms, it is time we loved him like a brother. This means judging him for his sins in an attempt to correct and maintain accountability, and not claiming him as a Christian if he leads a lifestyle that fails to glorify the Lord. Yeah that’s tough stuff. It’s hard to look past someone’s past, and it may be even harder to judge them and call them out in love. Or maybe it is tougher to reject someone because they are not living as Christ has commanded yet they claim His name. But that is what Jesus has called us to do, and to do it all with love. So that’s what we should do because if we rely on Him, He will give us the strength we need.
Justin Bieber as a brother in Christ I love you man, and I will try my best to show you that love in every sense of the word as Jesus defined it for me.