Christianity is not only a label but a way of life. Much like a profession is less a label, but more your conduct, both in and out of work. The same can be said about the Christian faith. A faith that adopts those doomed for the eternal wrath of God, into the eternal love of Christ. We should therefore be overjoyed when we see our favourite influencers giving their life to Christ and visibly displaying their love for Him on the platform they were given. Unfortunately, there are often negative responses from Christians towards celebrities publicly displaying their affection for the Lord with the most recent being Justin Bieber.
The Condemnatory Culture of Christians
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”Luke 19:7
Justin Bieber releasing both a gospel and a secular album has stemmed an uproar in the Christian community with first responses being, “is it only a marketing strategy” or “is he a true Christian?”
Condemnation from “Christians” is becoming increasingly apparent in the Church. Reflecting on the story of Zaccheus, this isn’t the first time such has occurred. As Jesus came to bring salvation to all, He encountered Zaccheus, dined with him and transformed him. However, the public viewed Zaccheus as the sinner He was and were scornful at Jesus spending time with him.
If we have not noticed, this is how some of us act towards celebrities who publicly declare their faith. We may think “it can’t possibly be so” or “this is all a huge marketing ploy.” However, if Jesus can successfully renew Zaccheus, Paul, and even you, then why does it seem like such an impossible feat for God to use celebrities?
We need to be careful as Christians not to subconsciously limit the power of the God we serve, the One who has performed an infinite amount of miracles, the creator of both the Heavens and the Earth. If we believe that such a God cannot renew such people, cannot transform such evil within others, celebrity or not, then we may not yet know nor understand the God we serve. Even if it may seem like a marketing ploy, the Lord can use anyone and anything to proclaim His name and to call people unto Him.
Not only can we fall into the trap of condemning Christians in media, but we can also fall into the trap of raising to them to unrealistic standards. How can we raise a human being to be so perfect when we are not perfect ourselves? Celebrities like Justin Bieber and Kanye West are no different. Sanctification is not a one step thing, but a process that occurs over time. As Christians, whilst we are still in these bodies we may always battle with the flesh. We should therefore be careful not to assume celebrities to any higher standard, as if they are not human beings themselves. As long as we are human we will always struggle. Paul demonstrates this to us in 2 Corinthians 12 – even He struggled however, through Christ He was able to overcome. As much as we should instruct and correct their actions with love, we should more so aim to pray for these Christians celebrities, that they may keep their eyes on Christ through their struggles rather than condemning them.
The Logs of our eyes
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?Matthew 7:3
Lastly, why do we view the sins of those on a more public platform as more devasting than ours. In the eyes of the Father, all transgressions are punishable by death so who are we therefore to categorise these sins as more punishable than another? It’s all well and good trying to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ, however sometimes our pride as Christians can cloud this love into abuse and condemnation. If others acted this way to us how would we feel? We must remember that celebrities are every bit as human as us, facing the same struggles as us. If we were to be watched every second of the day, do we believe that we would truly be free from sin? Or is it only by the mercies of God that grace abounds all the more? (Romans 5:20). As Christians, we should be empathetic, putting ourselves in the shoes of other brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging them in love and not over shaming them for their actions. We should watch closely the log in our own eyes so that pridefulness doesn’t overrule our actions, clouding us from showing love to the body of Christ.