Recently, there was an Internet debate about Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City. Pictures were being circulated of him and Justin Bieber drinking shots at a bar. As the evening progressed, Justin ended up shirtless and obviously behaving under the influence of alcohol. I am not one who likes to get in debates on the Internet, because oftentimes I think people are too quick to think their opinions are important, and they take very uninformed positions on well-intentioned people. These pictures are not just pictures that can be easily manipulated; they are what they are, reflecting the well-known positions of a lot of celebrity pastors. I use the word celebrity pastors to describe people who use social media, not just to promote Christ, but also to follow the secular example of showcasing their own life. I am sure that this is especially exciting when a real-life celebrity is in your pictures.
One of the principles of the Word is seedtime and harvest. The Bible says, “…whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” This is often used in the comparison to the life of sin versus the life according to the Word, but we must be careful to understand that it is a principle for all areas of life. Sometimes we think that we are doing something good, and we do not find out until the seed begins to grow and develop that it was not a good seed. This principle is important because in our present time, we assume that God will always accept our well-intentioned efforts, even when they are not good. The disciples learned that this was not true when Jesus informed them of His impending suffering and death on the cross. Peter pulled Jesus aside and told him that He did not have to suffer because he would be there to protect Him. Jesus’ response was, “Get behind me Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Not only was he wrong about what Jesus should do, he was wrong about himself. Jesus said that before the next morning, he would deny three times that he even knew Jesus. Peter had a wrong idea that was very well-intentioned, but he would need to go through a difficult process to see what was in him, and to let God work it out. Jesus told him that after this death process, not only would he come back, but he would also be able to strengthen the brethren.
God’s process is messier than I like personally, but it produces strong Christians. It would have been easy for Peter to become bitter through his experience. Why would he have to go through this ordeal when his intentions were good? Why couldn’t God have engineered an easier course for his change to take place? Jesus said, “…you will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” He also said, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” This means that we must be very careful to walk in the divine process, making adjustments along the way.
What’s up With Shots at the Bar?
The question you might ask is, “What does this have to do with the opening story?” The answer is, the church has been motivated by a “seeker sensitive” model that often removes hindrances for people coming to Christ, and even advocates us thinking that we can change them by joining them. Justin Bieber shares publicly about his faith in Jesus Christ. It is always exciting when someone well-known advocates on behalf of the Christian faith. However, if Justin Bieber is still in the bondage that was destroying his life before he came to Christ, we have robbed him of the complete victory, and settle for “win” or a notch for Christ. The bigger question we should be asking is: “Is Jesus impressed with our well-intentioned efforts?”
In the book of Matthew, we can read the announcement of Jesus’ birth to his father Joseph by the angel, “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from there sins.” Jesus did not just come for people to be forgiven of sin, he came for people to be saved from sin! We, the body of Christ, need to make a re-assessment of our strategies from time to time, and make sure that the fruit we are producing is good fruit. If you have been well-intended in your walk with the Lord, but you hear the call for something more—answer the call! Let’s be everything He desires!