An Open Letter to the “Biebs” (and anyone else who wants to follow Jesus)

Biebs –

Do you mind me calling you that? I heard that’s what some people call you.

I obviously don’t know you, but I hear you’re friends with Carl Lentz and Judah Smith – those guys seem legit, so I’m confident you are too.

I heard recently that you said that you really just want to “live like Jesus” – that is so awesome! I think it’s so cool when someone with a public platform such as yourself becomes a Christian and wants to live for Jesus. There is no greater call in all the world than to fulfill our purpose in life as humans by serving the being who designed and made us. I think, “man…imagine what God could do for someone with such a huge following, with so many people listening to him. What an amazing opportunity to serve an amazing creator God.” I want you to know that as I write this, I have been praying for you – I’m praying that God will do awesome things through you. Your interview seemed so transparent and so real, and I gotta tell you, it was really encouraging to me.

I also want to tell you that I don’t envy you – you have unique temptations and opportunities to sin that most people will never have, including myself. You have people watching you 24/7. You have challenges that are so big. But with great challenges come great opportunity, and I’m excited to see what God is going to do in and through you and your life.

I also want you to know that I’m not writing this to discourage you, but that I really felt like I had a word for you that I hope will be encouraging. Firstly, I wanted to share a brief story with you. I have this friend – let’s call him Jim – that used to drive around with one of those “Jesus fish” stickers on his car. One day his youth pastor saw him driving like a jerk and the next time he saw him he told him that he should just take the sticker off his car. As you can imagine, Jim didn’t take this too well. He got mad just as I probably would if I’m being honest with myself. But when Jim told me this story, he said that ultimately he realized that his youth pastor was right – “I’m a representative of Jesus as a Christian, and when I act like a jerk I’m just giving unbelievers yet another reason to doubt the reality of my God and my faith. I’m just another hypocrite.” And so what his youth pastor was really saying was this: “stop driving like a jerk; but if you can’t do that, then you should just go ahead and stop letting people know that you’re a Christian.” Man that would sting.

The apostle Paul was concerned about this as well – at times he seemed almost overwhelmed by what kind of perception that Christians were giving of the church of Jesus Christ. He cared passionately about how people represented Jesus. There are many examples, but one example is found in 1 Corinthians 8:9: “But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.” Paul was talking about certain eating habits in this passage, but we don’t really care about that because it’s not really relevant to us today in modern America; however, the general motivation behind Paul’s words is of interest to us because we’ll see how this teaching applies to us. Let’s apply Paul’s words to the Jesus-fish sticker story. What Paul is saying is “hey, you absolutely have the right to put that sticker on your car – you are a Christian, after all. That’s not technically against any rules. BUT, if by putting that sticker on your car you are causing anyone to stumble or to lose respect for our faith or you are representing Jesus in a negative way, then DON’T do it. Otherwise it might just be better to keep your faith to yourself.”

This is a tough teaching because I believe that we’re all definitely called to share our faith; the point, however, is that perception is really, really important. People are watching. They are just drooling at the mouth waiting for each of us to fail so they can point the finger and say “see I told you that Christianity is just a bunch of hocus pocus, he’s just another hypocrite.” And obviously none of us are perfect – we need to remind ourselves as well as others of this truth repeatedly. The greatest lie we could ever teach is that we need to be perfect before we can proclaim the truth of scripture and the gospel – it would never get proclaimed if that were true. But at the same time we MUST model the teachings of Jesus in our lives. Jesus said that we are like a city on a hill and we should let Jesus’ light shine out through our lives – and I believe that if you continue to honor him, as I believe you did in that interview, the light can be bright in your life.

I want you to know that I’m not writing this because I think you need to – metaphorically speaking – take the Jesus-fish sticker off your car. In fact, to the contrary: keep doing what you’re doing; in fact, put a giant sticker on there! But don’t forget that there are people out there that want you to fail. They actually WANT you to mess up so they can crucify you along with our common faith. Prove them wrong. Walk with Jesus and he’ll walk with you. Live in the power or God’s Spirit. Do this and God will do awesome things through you – I can’t wait. God bless brother.

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