Monday, November 6, 2017

Dear Justin Beiber...please just go away

Justin Beiber.
I can barely even type the name without my skin crawling. The bad behavior. The crappy music. The posing. I admit to my disdain for this kid. My dislike is exacerbated by the fact that he openly claims Jesus.
His behavior has been so atrocious as to have been cornered and throttled by none other than Keyshawn Johnson for speeding through a residential neighborhood.  He’s groped women, allegedly drugged at least one, punched fans, pleaded guilty to a DUI and –if you believe the account of the pilot—forced his private plane to land because he was smoking so much weed in the cabin that the pilot was getting a contact high and didn’t feel safe to perform his duties.
About six weeks ago he cancelled the remainder of his “Purpose” tour and said he wants to focus on being a better person and working on his faith. Being a better person wouldn’t be hard…he’s pretty much a scumbag so anything he does to improve will look great by comparison.
So, we’ve established that I don’t like him. Here’s why:
I live in Lynchburg, Virginia now, but I spent 17 years in Nashville. I had a long run of bad experiences in Nashville and I admit it tainted the waters for me. Nashville is a very cool town with lots to do. But it has a seamy side that I hated. It is a town built on entertainment, after all, and there is a certain intrinsic danger to that. Nashville loves it’s celebrities. I mean loves them. Everybody loves posting on social media how they ran into Carrie Underwood at the car wash or saw the late George Jones at Nacho’s, a wonderful Mexican joint in Franklin where he used to go for dinner quite often. Everybody has their celebrity close encounter stories and they love dishing them out.
Pastors are not immune to this disease either. They never shy from mentioning the latest famous face to attend their services. And if a music star, or a famous author, (beside music, Nashville is a massive publishing hub) or an athlete from one of the pro sports franchises should actually call them their pastor…well, brother, you’ll hear about it soon enough.
I attended three churches during my 17 years in Nashville. The first was pastored by a wonderful godly man who was only slightly affected by the stardom of the town. He loved being friends with Christian musicians. He was a very accomplished musician himself and after forty years in ministry, knew quite a few of them. They came to visit, and often played in our church. He didn’t give them any special treatment and never hesitated to introduce them to congregants who were curious. I met Armand Morales through him because he knew I was a huge fan of the Imperials and sang bass in High School. He never cow-towed to the famous, but he sure loved when they stopped by.
The second church I attended was different. (I changed churches because I had bought a house about 25 miles away.)
It was an average sized church when I first attended, maybe 600 people. Then word got out about the music. (It’s never “Come here this pastor, Man! He can call down the fire! It’s “Come hear our music, the band is incredible!” Because it’s really about entertaining the masses, not preaching content) and word got out about the celebrities who started showing up because of the churches proximity to their neighborhood, and the numbers exploded. Within a few years, they were running about 5000 between the two Sunday services. You never knew which celebrity would show up next…but you always found out when they did because the pastor namedropped on social media. Oh, sure, it was the classic “Humble-brag:” something like this… “So blessed and honored to have [insert famous musician / athlete / politician] in our services this morning. God is good!” Then came the requisite selfie with the celebrity.
You couldn’t get five minutes with the pastor because his schedule was just so jammed. But if you were famous, oh man! “Clear the calendar and hold my calls, Gladys!”
God might have been doing something amazing in the life of Joe Average, but the pastor seldom found out because he was only concerned with the life of Joe Celebrity. It was as if James chapter 2 was entirely torn out of the bible.
The problem is that so many of these celebrities were new in their faith, or if they had been claiming Christianity for a long time, they were stunted because nobody ever dare call them to account. You can’t have Joe Celebrity on your speed dial and expect him to return your call if you were to ever hold him accountable, or preach a sermon against sin; particularly sin he might be committing. (This is why you never heard sermons in Nashville about divorce or drunkenness or adultery. It’s also why Nashville has the second highest divorce rate in the U.S. to go along with the most churches per capita) No way! You can’t run off those famous folks. They write big checks and even more…they add a glamour and air of importance to the pastor’s resume.
All this is in explanation of my issues with Justin Beiber.
First, there’s his Pastor. It’s like the guy is writing his own personal encyclopedia of bad / questionable behavior. Case in point: This is Beiber and his “pastor” Carl Lentz, doing shots in a bar in New Zealand: 

Now I can’t tell for sure, but the guy looks like Bono and George Michael had a love-child. Is there anyone more desperate for outward approval than this shallowman?
His track record is atrocious. I won’t delve into it here because this isn’t a Carl Lentz article but here is a link to one of the many informative stories about this guy. I’ll let you decide: Carl Lentz: Heretic?
So back to Beiber…
If he is serious about rededicating his life to Jesus, returning to the Faith he allegedly claimed as a child, and answering the prayers of a godly mom, I hope he’ll consider doing what Bob Dylan did.
Go away!
That’s right. Justin Beiber needs to go away.
Go away for a while. Hide from the public eye. Spend your “forty years” in the desert. Get ahold of someone who can really disciple you (not this poser you call a pastor. I mean how much discipline and training can you get from a drinking buddy more concerned with popularity than the Gospel?) and let them hold you accountable.
In the late seventies, Bob Dylan made a conversion to Messianic Judaism. He subsequently released three, very powerful, very direct Christian themed albums that rank among his best work. In the years since, he has not overtly written lyrics about his Faith, but it’s there if you’re listening. (Dylan has stated that he tends to keep his personal life out of his music and once he’s addressed a topic, doesn’t like to repeat himself. This is why he stopped at three Christian themed records)
Beiber needs to do the same. 
He needs to go away.
He needs to stop being seen in public, decide if he can really live without the fame and the accolades and the young girls fawning over him. He needs to see if he can really obey Jesus...not just love Jesus. He needs to feel how heavy that daily cross is, and decide if he really wants to carry it or not. he needs to see if he can say with John the Baptist: "He must increase but I must decrease." He needs to spend time with a man of God who will stick a finger in that tiny chest of his and say "Listen, dude...this is wrong what you're doing and you need to stop. You're disobeying Scripture and I don't give a rat's butt who you are!"
He owes Jesus this. He owes us this. The people who claim the same faith and name the same Name. He needs to decide whether he could live without booze and drugs and girls and the fame he so obviously craves. He needs to be stripped of everything he uses to define himself and let himself be transformed by the renewing of his mind.
He needs to get to a point where he says “I’m laying this down and I may never pick it up again."
That or he needs to never mention his faith again. Go slam shots with your poser buddy. Get arrested again. Grope women and irritate former football players. Write embarrassingly stupid things in the guestbook at the Anne Frank museum. Just don’t tell people you’re a Christian. Because you make us all look bad. And anyone who can make me look worse than I already am, is really doing it wrong.
Pastors…please, I BEG you, please don’t ask this kid to come speak to your church. Don’t hold him up as another reclaimed soul. Nashville…don’t give him a book deal and a record deal and a speaking gig. Not yet. Let him prove himself. Let him go a year or two without the bad behavior. Let him mature. Bob Dylan waited over a year before even mentioning his conversion, because he knew, and distrusted, the culture that holds famous converts up like trophies far too early in their spiritual life.
Justin Beiber should do this as well. If he’s serious, and this new chapter is the real thing, then I say “Thank God” and welcome him with open arms. But until then, he needs to take a cue from Dylan
…and just go away.

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