August 1 – I Wonder why we so dislike Justin Bieber

bieberWhy do we so dislike Justin Bieber?  Because even as in a funhouse mirror with all its distortions, we still recognize ourselves.

I am not a big pop culture person. You don’t want me on your Trivial Pursuit team if we need a pie wedge of pop cultural literacy.  But I know enough about Justin Bieber to think “good for him” when I read the internet headline, “Orlando Bloom Throws Punch at Justin Bieber.” And it’s not that I know much about Orlando Bloom, but anyone who cares about The Lord of the Rings has got to be a little bit of an Orlando Bloom fan; you know, Legolas and all.

So why the headline about Orlando Bloom being knighted for throwing a punch at Justin Bieber, and why did I say, “Yeah!”?

The story is about Justin Bieber, who not very long ago was a teen heartthrob, sweet and innocent, and is now a DUI-convicted, vandalism-fined, everyone loves-to-hate, 20-year old. We thought we were getting a new Pat Boone, instead we’re getting a young Sean Penn without the social conscience or radical politics. And, who knows, maybe without the talent.

Apparently Justin Bieber said something rude about Orlando Bloom’s ex-wife in Bloom’s hearing and Bloom threw a punch. And the world applauded.

By the way, Justin Bieber claims a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

So, why do we so dislike Justin Bieber? On the one hand, Bieber appears to be a jerk in the way that the entertainment business seems to breed jerks.  But he is not alone, and there’s something particularly dislikable about Justin Bieber that goes beyond typical big star jerkdom. Bieber is hardly the first star with a DUI or run-ins with the law, the paparazzi, and fellow stars. Bieber is more than just a jerk.

By the way, the church breeds its own brand of jerk, but that’s a post for another day.

It may be that we so dislike Justin Bieber because there’s something particularly sad about his life at 20. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Justin Bieber does not need to be another Pat Boone.  We don’t need another Pat Boone.  Justin Bieber needs to be who God intends him to be. And DUI’s and petty run-ins of various kinds are never what God intends for any of us.

Theologian Cornelius Pantinga, Jr., has defined sin as “not the way its supposed to be.”  Sin is when what we say and what we do and what we think breaks God’s shalom, his peace, the way things are supposed to be.  Original or otherwise, sin takes us to places where things are not the way they are supposed to be.

Why do we so dislike Justin Bieber? Why did the world applaud when Orlando Bloom threw that punch?

It may be that we dislike Justin Bieber because for all the media-obsessed exaggerations in his life, he is too much like us. Those of us who have navigated our lives past any twenty-something excess know that it never turns out well when we live life not the way it is supposed to be. Even as we applaud Orlando Bloom for throwing a punch at the young jerk, we want to tell Justin Bieber, “Please, don’t. It could be so much better for you.”

Most of us who have been baptized into the grace of God and the saving work of Jesus Christ, don’t have Justin Bieber’s fame and fortune to fuel our sin, our decisions to break God’s shalom in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  But we know the price of sin is always high. “The wages of sin is death,” the Apostle writes.

Why do we so disike Justin Bieber?  Because even as in a funhouse mirror with all its distortions, we still recognize ourselves.

Apparently Justin Bieber was rebaptized recently – this past June in a bathtub in New York City.  I will leave the bad theology of rebaptism alone for now. The water and words, though, are meaningless unless the life of repentance bears fruit.

Good for Orlando Bloom. Justin Bieber the young jerk deserves a good punch in the nose. I say, “Yeah!” But I must also pray that Justin Bieber the young sinner might live into the repentance he expressed in June, that his repentance would bear the fruit of shalom. I must pray that he comes to experience deeply and abidingly that amazing grace that saved a jerk like me.

See you Sunday