Over the years, breaking news has moved from an actual world crisis to breaking news of a celebrity crisis. In this celerity-obsessed culture, we are in the know of every move these pedestal placed people make. It is difficult to navigate through life recently and not be inundated with the troubles pop music celebrity Justin Bieber has been getting into.
The world was all eyes to watch Justin getting arrested for drag racing, driving under the influence, and resisting arrest. We were all ears to listen to media analysts break down the demise one of today’s biggest celebrities. In all the commentary, there was never a touching on the real issue of the matter; that a life without Christ at the center leads to disgrace and destruction.
Less than two weeks after the drag racing incident, Bieber makes the news again; this time for smoking so much pot with his dad (the great role model that he is) in their private jet, that the flight crew put their oxygen masks on. The report stated that with repeated requests to not smoke on the flight, Justin and his dad became verbally abusive to the crew.
I don’t write this to reopen old news of an industry pawn for the sake of sensationalism. What caught my attention though, was an event that took place somewhere in between the drag racing and the private jet hotbox. While in New York on Super Bowl weekend, Justin, with his entourage, were searching for a pool to get baptized. A pool to cleanse away past sins and start fresh. Reminder- that this is after the DUI arrest and before jet rides and excessiving partying.
I know from personal experience that in times of self-inflicted troubles, I have looked to solutions to pull me out of the miry clay. Most often, the solutions have been to look and cling to the Rock, Jesus, that, through His promises, will cleanse me from all unrighteousness when I confess and forsake my sins. This is human nature, that when we hit rock bottom, we realize we need to hit the reset button and that there is something that is going to have to take place in our lives that will put us on the right path and move us forward in the right direction.
Out of all the wild and crazy things that took place over the last number of weeks, the issue I have is with Justin making a public statment about a search squad looking for a pool for baptism; the thought that by taking a quick dunk in a pool would be the reset button Justin needed. That by being baptized will not only be the cure but the justification and cleansing for actions to come. Almost as if baptism is a cure-all pill. A heart needs to be transplanted and is sought to be fixed by Advil. With celebrity “worship,” society has thought less for themselves and emulates more of what is seen on TV and we are seeing this prevalent in the teenage demographic. As a result, the gospel message is being portrayed to millions as a pill formula.
Baptism is a necessary component of the Christian experience. In fact, Jesus stated, it is one of the two requirements for Heaven. “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5 Unfortunately, we as Christians have dumbed down the process of baptism. From sprinkling water on an infant to the baptismal candidate reading a couple Bible verses prior to immersion, this sacred outward testament to the a new life in Jesus has become a weak sentiment of meaningless formality.
Where the problem continues to lie, is that people have been led to believe that there is a converting power in the water and the experience of baptism. However, where the real converting power is, is found in the second requirement of John 3:5, (which is actually the first requirement)- we must be born of the Spirit. When born of the Spirit we are not only accepting the redeeming power of salvation through faith, but we are giving a new heart in Christ.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
When baptism is broken down symbolically, it is to represent a funeral, a burial. This public display of burial is the burial of the “old man,” self, and a life of sin. The actual “death” of the sinful self happens prior to the funeral. We die first in Jesus, we believe and accept His mercy and grace, and then we demonstrate this by baptism. If we are teaching people that we can be married to Christ through the gift of salvation, but yet self is not slain, we are educating society in spiritual adultery.
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:12
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life…Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Romans 6:4-16
I don’t want to doubt Justin’s sincerity or his desire to start over with a clean slate. I don’t want to be a judge of how sincere of a Christian he says he is. However, saying and doing are two different things and the statment rings as loud as ever, “actions speak louder than words.” At the end of the day was this a publicity stunt or was their true conviction within his heart? If we have hit rock bottom and we truly want a new life in Jesus, at the moment of conversion a desire to carry on with the old life should start to dim. Why? Because the old man has been slain and a new man, a new creation is living in Christ Jesus. This doesn’t mean we will be flawless from this point forward. This doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes and fall to temptation. However, when this takes place, the new man, who is in Jesus, will recognize his condition and immediately confess, repent and turn from his actions.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Let us be renewed in the Spirit today, and walk in the light and hope of Jesus, a new creation.
For a more in depth study on baptism please visit the sites below.