Yeah, I wasn’t sure how to respond. My sarcasm and skepticism meters initially jumped off the chart and it took me a couple hours to bring it down. When a very public figure goes from wild-child to disciple of Jesus there’s bound to be a lot of disbelief. He can’t be serious. This must be a publicity stunt. What’s he really trying to pull?
I imagine this is the similar response the apostle Paul received after his dramatic conversion experience. And no, that’s not to put Bieber on the same level with the Apostle. It’s merely saying that salvation leading to extreme turn-arounds should NOT be shocking to Christians. We, of all people, should be the first to say, “Yeah, that’s the kind of thing our God can do! Look at how he radically transforms lives.” So I’m not sure how or to what extent, but Justin Bieber has publicly proclaimed that he wants to live like Jesus.
And that brings us to the word of the day: Ashamed
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Tough words from Jesus. It’s the part of the Bible where the rubber meets the road. It’s not merely enough to believe the right thing, but being an authentic follower of Jesus must mean something and actually play out in real life. In his book Growing True Disciples, George Barna writes, “…most believers say their faith matters, but few are investing much energy in the pursuit of spiritual growth.”
This is a problem, folks. We want the title without putting in any of the work. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Those who claim the title “Christian” need to be working to see evidence of a life change. That change is then projected into the world around us. It’s about rejecting the world and embracing Jesus. It’s about not being a closet-Christian but a public one.
While some might mock Justin Bieber for his public proclamation about his desire to live like Jesus, isn’t this exactly what Jesus is talking about? Are we willing to publicly state, “I’m going to do my best to follow him”?
Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.
Our first song is called Unbroken Praise. It’s new to me, but it quickly is becoming a favorite! It’s about our praise of the God who calls us, saves us, and changes us. When we think about what God has done in our lives THIS should be our natural response!
Unbroken praise be yours, God forever all my praise, God, be yours forever Lord, take this life
Let it become your throne
Unbroken praise be yours.
God accepts us as we are.
Our second song is God is Able. It declares the awesome wonder of God – the foundation and rock upon which we build our faith and lives. The song declares,
God is able, He will never fail – He is almighty God
Greater than all we seek, Greater than all we ask – He has done great things
Lifted up, He defeated the grave Raised to life our God is able In His name we overcome For the Lord our God is able
– How has God changed my life?
– Am I willing to pursue spiritual growth and discipleship or do I mere want the title?
– Am I willing to make a public stand for Jesus?
Making it real:
– This week, make a discipleship plan – how will you pursue spiritual growth?
– If you’ve never come to the place in your life where you have decided to be a follower of Jesus and want to know more, please shoot us a message and we’ll be glad to talk to you about what it means to be a follower!
Chris Linzey is husband to Tené, father to the three most beautiful children in the world, movie addict (seriously, if it’s on a screen he'll watch it—doesn’t matter how crummy or low-budget), and a Navy Chaplain, currently assigned to Naval Air Station, Meridian. Chris has a deep desire to help people live lives of faith where the Bible is more than mere words on a page, but the way we live everyday. His undergrad and Master’s studies were in Biblical Studies and he focused on the New Testament (his mentor was a Gospel of Mark scholar). He went on to get a Master of Divinity (MDiv) in Pastoral Preaching. Follow him at @chrislinzey.