Pastor Lentz of Hillsong United Church will reveal in the January 2016 issue of GQ magazine that the now 21-year-old Justin Bieber asked to be baptized amidst sobs last year. Lentz told GQ, “This boy is 21. He’s in a horribly toxic world… He is trying to do his best to figure this out. He has never been anybody but who he has professed to be, which is a work in progress.”
AFP reported today that officials are demanding cleanup of ads on sidewalks, promoting Justin Bieber’s latest album. Sidewalk ads were painted in various cities including San Francisco and New York. The rains have descended and countless commuters have walked the ads; however, the paintings are still visible, inked in spray-paint, not chalk. Public Works Director, Mohammed Nuru added that that San Francisco sidewalks are “not canvasses for corporate advertising.” San Francisco authorities are now threatening legal fines up to $2,500 per graffiti site.
“Purpose” (released November 13th), is the first album from Bieber in three years, during which he was on an emotional rollercoaster. Still, he seems to have done some major soul searching; and thanks to the aggressive advertising, “Purpose” opened at number one in the US and various countries around the world. Could this be the first of a pouring out of the side of Bieber some have been waiting for, and that some never knew existed?
The Christian Post reported earlier this week, details previously unreleased about Justin Berber’s baptism in a friend’s bathtub (no ordinary tub at that) last year by Hillsong United Pastor, Carl Lentz. The event culminated after intense Bible Study and counseling. This year, the release of Bieber’s new album titled, “Purpose,” was rejected in Muslim countries for being too religious. Bieber also unveiled his “wings” this year in an Instagram post, his latest ink at the back of his neck, which garnered over 2 million likes in less than 24 hours.
Examiner reported in 2012 that Bieber was experiencing insomnia and depression. It seemed that his own spiritual journey had begun for him a personal limbo common to converts before taking the leap of faith. Believers sometimes refer to the lyrics, when you “Can’t sleep at night; something just ain’t right; maybe God is trying to tell you something.” Since then, Bieber has been in a struggle to belong to something bigger than himself, and looking for his life purpose; hence, the title of his latest release is not surprising. It proves that you can have a billion social media “friends” and still feel genuinely lonely and lacking knowledge of your destiny. Loneliness is such a lingering theme for people in our increasingly digital, less intimate world, that you can actually rent a friend for $23 an hour.
2015 has been a huge witness for Bieber’s apparent changing persona since publicly professing his faith. He is still coming out of old habits – but that is the case with most every person who finds faith. If it took time to become ungodly, it will take time to become more like Christ. After comments earlier this year about his church aversion, recently, Bieber invited his interviewer to church, where they heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ from Pastor Judah Smith of The City Church in Seattle.
Bieber has experienced the controversy and the challenges of being a child star, hitting the entertainment scene at the age of just 13 after being discovered on YouTube. Later exhibiting all the signs of an at-risk youth through the next few years, Bieber experienced a confusing adolescence in front of the whole world. That public pressure is more than some adults can take.
Bieber’s conversion might be the spark that ignites the next youth revival around the world. Hopefully, there are many people standing in the faith gap for him (praying fervently) while he works to establish his faith foundation and become unwavering. Bieber is a prime example of Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” AMP. His mother introduced him to Pastor Smith’s sermons when he was just seven years old. A seed of greatness was planted and he is now discovering that it is about more than fame.
How the world receives Bieber’s conversion – and that of those who follow suit or related uniquely to his experience, will send an important message to generation now. They have followed him to many music awards; and many more may follow him to church. Youths today need to see true forgiveness action. There are real people with real problems that the church has grown inexperienced in handling since those who would fill the “worst sinner” pews have been alienated from the “faithful” environment. This is the reason that many unchurched believers still have strong conversion testimonies. They are looking for a leader that understands their pain, and sometimes they do not see that person in a traditional pastor. They want to talk to someone who has been homeless, and hungry, and ostracized, and embattled as they have – someone whom they feel relates to their struggle.
Youths and adults alike need to witness the welcoming of the atoning love of Christ extended to this young man and those like him who have sometime made bad choices (like many have), but who are seeking the straight way (like many are), who want desperately to do the right thing. It is a tough choice that many adults find just as challenging. It is written that a child can lead.
Bieber’s bad-boy image was so publicly displayed that his tender conversion should receive even more press. However, the initial reports in similar situations tend to come from critics who question the validity of the star’s conversion, and bring to light every misstep the person has made on his or her own road to Damascus. It should not be so questioned as it is not so questioned when it happens every day in churches by people who are not particularly famous.
Bieber told Complex magazine earlier this year, “I just wanna honestly live like Jesus…” So, Justin Bieber is a work in progress. Aren’t we all?