Baby! Baby! Baby!
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry with joy when I heard that Justin Bieber wanted to live like Jesus. The Canadian darling who banged on drums as a boy, then gang-banged on the stage as a troubled teen, then went drag-racing and smoking pot as a young adult, the same one who said “wait and marry before having sex” -- wanted something more out of life.
The sex, drugs, rock and roll all gets old. “I would do anything for love” comes in a close second as the best thing that man can find, and money can’t buy. Yet this love has to be more than man can give, even Mom and Dad.
Normally, I get as political as they get on this website. I take on nasty comments from left-wig trolls. Sometimes conservatives get mad at me because I share views not quite in line with their world view.
Today, I am getting spiritual, writing about more than Bieber’s wanting to believe in Something greater. I also want to shout out at the pastors, the preachers, and the Internet teachers, especially those who see Christ and Christianity as a hard slog of self-effort, in which God saves man initially, but from that point on, you and I are on our own.
Born-again Believer (not a Belieber, I am sure) and Pastor Michael Brown made some interest remarks in his “Open Letter to Justin” , but I feel compelled to add something, and with all due respect, correct some things.
Brown’s main point started with “I'm just wondering, though, if you understand what it really means to live like Jesus.”
This statement reveals the frustration in the Body of Christ today, the misunderstanding about “give one’s life to Christ”, or “live for Jesus”, entails.
Let me clear: none of us can live like Christ, or be like Jesus. He needs to live in us!
In the Beginning, God warned the first man and woman: “Don’t eat from that tree (the knowledge of Good and Evil), lest ye die”. When they ate from the tree, they died, cut off from God.
Throughout the four Gospels, all of which detail Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jesus is trying to explain to man – particularly the Israelites – the impossible standard of living for God. How can we live for Him when we are dead? Passages in the Gospel of Matthew talk about renewed wineskins. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus relates the Parable of the Prodigal Son. At the end of the parable, the Father rejoices, because “My son was dead, and is now alive.”
In the Gospel of John, the account explicitly written to the entire world, Jesus emphasizes who He is: Life. We also find the heart of the Father fully revealed, and the necessity of understanding how much God loves – yes, present tense! – loves us.
The New Testament is predicated on what God has done for us through His Son: everything. When we understand how great God loves us, then we in turn can love others:
“We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4: 19)
|Justin Bieber (Joe Bielawa)|
In the original Greek, “him” is not there. We love anyone, because He first (and foremost) loved us.
The previous before grant a more resplendent revelation, which many American pastors seem indifferent or uncomfortable with sharing:
“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.”
Brown is right that we receive a new life: “The old Justin Bieber dies and a new Justin Bieber lives” However, that explanation does not go far enough. We are taken out of ourselves, and brought into Christ.
We receive a new life and a new identity. God is no longer some loving being who sent His Son to die for us and as us. God our Creator becomes our Father. This fatherhood of God, or more accurately Daddy! God, is so desperately missing in our churches. For that reason, I believe that many young people who want life, who want love, who recognize that they have nothing but wants and nothing meets their needs, also find that they find neither what they want or need in churches.
Include me in that list. When I heard what the Gospel of Grace is all about (read Galatians 1: 6 if you doubt that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about grace), I felt betrayed. To this day, I have not set foot in a church where Jesus is not preached, alive and well and welling up within us as the Living Water (John 7: 37-39).
Bieber wants to live like Jesus. Jesus invited us to receive something way better: “I want you to have life, and that more abundantly (John 10: 10). Notice that Jesus did not say: “I have come to make your life better, or be an example on how to live.”
Paul the Apostle uttered this deep revelation very directly: “Yet I live, yet not I, but the life I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God.”
Jesus gives us Himself, and He lives in us! Moreover, we become sons of God, and become more like Him as we see more of Him in the Word (2 Corinthians 3: 18)
To Justin Bieber, I write that you are seeking Life. The Good News is that Life sought us, and seeks to bless us richly, if we will only receive Him.
Don’t take my word for it. Jesus Himself said:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
So what is our part, then?
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” (John 6: 29)
I would say to Justin Bieber: believe in Jesus, and let Him live in you!