When it comes to faith, don’t try to go it alone

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Justin Bieber says he “just wanna honestly live like Jesus.”

Good for him. Good any who wanna honestly live like Jesus. Justin says: “Jesus created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind.” Yes, and we need more love, graciousness and kindness.

The 21-year-old pop star was reared by a Christian mother but admitted he has veered off course. He couldn’t handle the juxtaposition of faith and fame. That’s hard for anyone, let alone someone as young as he. His often bizarre behavior was good fodder for tabloids and good business for paparazzi.

So let’s applaud this renewed spiritual direction for someone who is refocusing his life and can be a positive role model in the years ahead. The question I have is whether he can sustain his intentions. Like so many others these days, Justin views his relationship with Jesus as personal and individual. He and Jesus are going it alone.

Justin’s take: “You don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. If you go to Taco Bell, that doesn’t make you a taco.”

Hmm. Since he opened the analogy, let’s just go with it. You are what you eat. When you consume tacos, you are nourished (or malnourished) by them. Your body changes in response to what you take in. The spiritual principle is the same: When you eat the bread and drink the cup at the Lord’s Table in church, you are feeding on the food of Christ’s eternal truth, goodness and beauty. You begin more and more to reflect what you have consumed.

[quote align=”right” color=”#000000″]“Bad company corrupts good morals,” St. Paul said, quoting an ancient Greek playwright (or was it my mother?).[/quote]Our culture has a dismissive attitude toward the church, and the infrequent attendance of many church members reflects at least a “take it or leave it” attitude.

To some degree, the church itself is to blame. We like to draw bright lines about who’s in and who’s out. We are often as sinful within the church as those we point fingers at outside it. Our churches spilt and splinter more than a piece of dry wood. We deserve some disdain.

Nonetheless, where else will you go to find the company that will accompany you all the way to heaven? “Bad company corrupts good morals,” St. Paul said, quoting an ancient Greek playwright (or was it my mother?). Church is where we help each other persevere in the way of Christ.

Christianity is communal. We need each other. I admit it: I’m a pastor with a vested interest in the link between personal faith and congregational life. But is it really possible to be a Christian for long on your own? Won’t a flaming ember die quickly when blown from the fire?

Jesus is not just a historical figure to be emulated; Christians believe he lives now in and through his body on earth, the church.

A body is not bunch. Take an onion out of a bunch; the bunch will hardly miss it and the onion will still be an onion. But separate an arm or a leg from a body, the whole body will be impaired and the limb will soon die from being cut off from the source of life.

Praying for Justin and all the “Beliebers” out there trying to go it alone in faith. We’re keeping a pew warm for you.