Whenever celebrities mention even the name of God, many Christians have the tendency to immediately jump on it and celebrate this person’s ‘faith’. I’m definitely not in that category. But in a recent interview with Complex, Justin Bieber said some fascinating stuff about faith, God, the church, and Christianity.
It’s easy to forget amidst all the gossip and bad pres, how young Bieber was and still is. Yet in this interview he shows some remarkable maturity and growth, especially when he talks about what Jesus means to him.
It’s easy to talk about God, but Bieber talks about Jesus. Here’s a quote:
“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.”
Admittedly, he says this in a long interview where he uses the occasional swear word and is anything but humble about himself or his talents. Yet there’s something vulnerable and raw about these words, like they come from deep within him.
This is the kind of stuff I want to share with teens to discuss. What do you think Justin means when he says this? Do you recognize this? Too often we only talk about a sanitized, ‘clean’ version of the Gospel – perfectly worded in Christianese. When maybe what teens need to challenge their thinking is to hear the Gospel according to Justin Bieber. Because he offered some pretty spot-on statements, like this one:
“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.””
Correct me if I’m wrong, but he ‘gets’ the difference between religion and relationship and captures it in words perfectly. It’s not up to me to declare Justin Bieber a Christian. or not. I’ll leave that to the One who made him and can see into his heart. But this interview sure is a ‘thin place’, a place where pop culture and the Gospel meet…and where God is at work.
Read the interview. The first part is about himself, his past, and his infamous relationship with Selena Gomez. But at the end it gets deep and vulnerable. There’s enough in there for some really good conversations with your teens or small group.