Justin Bieber, who has distanced himself from Hillsong Church and its now-disgraced pastor Carl Lentz, opened up recently about celebrity pastors and his Christian faith. The 27-year-old pop star, who released a faith-based EP titled “Freedom” on Easter, didn’t mention Lentz by name but was candid about faith-related issues in an interview with GQ magazine.
Justin Bieber: Pastors Put Themselves on This Pedestal
While discussing the trappings of fame and celebrity culture, Bieber says, “I think so many pastors put themselves on this pedestal, and…church can be surrounded around the man, the pastor, the guy, and it’s like, ‘This guy has this ultimate relationship with God that we all want but we can’t get because we’re not this guy.’” He adds, “That’s not the reality, though. The reality is, every human being has the same access to God.”
Bieber points to Pastor Judah Smith, whom he first met as a teenager, as an example of a genuine church leader. Rather than asking the singer for anything, Smith always “put our relationship first,” says Bieber. The pastor and his family also demonstrated care for one another—something that attracted the singer, who’d grown up in a broken family.
After enduring numerous high-profile struggles, Bieber now seeks ways to mentor and support other up-and-coming singers. “What can I do to be an encouragement?” he asks himself. “I don’t want to let my shame of my past dictate what I’m able to do now for people.” Bieber adds, “At this point in my life, I’m right where I’m supposed to be, doing what I believe that God wants me to do. And there’s nothing more fulfilling.”
Faith and Marriage Now Form Justin Bieber’s Foundation
Chance the Rapper, another Christian in the secular entertainment industry, says of his friend Bieber, “Both of us, our secret sauce is Jesus. Justin doesn’t fake the funk. He goes to Jesus with his problems, he goes to Jesus with his successes. He calls me just to talk about Jesus.” Although the rapper describes both himself and Bieber as “blessed” and “anointed,” he points out that “the most successes usually come out of you when you use those talents for God.”
While speaking about God, Bieber says, “He is grace. Every time we mess up, he’s picking us back up every single time. That’s how I view it. And so it’s like, ‘I made a mistake. I won’t dwell in it. I don’t sit in shame. But it actually makes me want to do better.’” The singer adds, “If God forgives me and he loves me and he set these things in motion, if he put these desires in my heart, then I’m going to trust him.”
About sharing his faith, Bieber tells GQ, “My goal isn’t to try and persuade anybody to believe in what I believe or condemn anybody for not believing what I believe. If it can help someone, great. If someone’s like, ‘Hey, I don’t believe that, I don’t think that’s true,’ by all means, that’s their prerogative.”
Bieber also credits his marriage to Hailey as a solidifying force in his life. “I didn’t have someone to love,” he says. “I didn’t have someone to pour into. But now I have that.”