I don’t listen to Justin Bieber’s music. I don’t follow him on social media, and I generally don’t read celebrity gossip news about him. Most of that triggers my gag reflex, in fact.
But I came across this story in TMZ about how Biebs ran over a photographer in his truck.
Justin was leaving the Saban Theater, where he’d been worshipping at a City Church event. He climbed into his monster pickup truck as photogs scrambled around the vehicle, and when he gunned it to pull away … hit the man. It’s pretty clear in the video … Justin’s front right side tire hits, or rolls over, the paparazzo.
A couple of things stood out. First, Bieber just cancelled the last 14 dates of an 18-month world tour, without giving much of a reason other than taking some time off. Some have speculated that Bieber found Jesus again. This wouldn’t be the first time that’s been reported.
There’s also speculation that Bieber is about to start his own church.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 25, 2017
A baby in the faith like Bieber might be cautioned on trying to become a faith leader, versus a pop icon. The two things are arguably mutually exclusive, if not generally incompatible in their goals. Dr. Michael Brown wrote as much in a 2015 open letter.
Returning to the hitting-the-paparazzo-with-his-truck incident: Bieber was attending a Wednesday-night worship service. At most churches, only the hardcore faithful go on Wednesday night Bible studies. Certainly, Bieber can get any number of spiritual advisers to hang around with him, or get photo-ops laying hands on him in prayer (like another celebrity politician we know). The fact that he went to church be in fellowship with other Christians is both important and remarkable.
TMZ’s story continues:
Justin did not flee the scene and, in fact, stopped as soon as other photogs pointed out what had happened. Bieber stayed right by the man’s side for roughly 8 to 10 minutes until paramedics and police arrived.
How many other 23-year-old super-celebrities would stick around with a person whose job it is to be a gadfly to celebrities after hitting them with a truck? Can you imagine, say, Miley Cyrus, or one of the Kardashians doing that?
The photographer called Bieber “a good kid.” He added, “he was compassionate.”
You might be thinking right now that I am going to claim Bieber’s compassion is the certain sign of his faith. You’d be wrong.
Plenty of people have compassion. ISIS members have compassion for some people–just not people who aren’t part of ISIS. Compassion is a good thing, it’s something a Christian has, and practices in deed, but it’s not a sure sign of faith.
The sign of Bieber’s faith–as certain as the sun coming up–is this.
John 15:19: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” And its opposite, John 7:7 “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.”
1 John 3:13: “Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.”
When the world rejects Justin Bieber, and the paparazzi following him look for him to fall, not because the world loves to see celebrities mess up so they can be forgiven, but so they can be destroyed, then we will know he’s found a rock-solid faith in Jesus Christ.
Look at how the world reacted in positive glee when Josh Duggar’s sins were exposed. Look at how they jump at every opportunity to attack Chip and Joanna Gaines. Look at what happens to every Hollywood personality when they publicly proclaim their allegiance to Christ.
The absolute, certain sign of true faith is when the world hates you.
I pray that Justin Bieber’s faith would grow, and that he would know what’s coming. The world will turn on him. It will be difficult for him–in ways I cannot possibly know. But I pray that he will prevail in his faith: a real faith will endure the test.