Is it wrong for Christians to drink? Many would say no, pointing to instances in the Bible that talk positively of wine, like when Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding. But still others would point to Paul's advice to believers to not do anything that would cause others to stumble into sin.
That's the heart of the controversy surrounding the recent photos of Justin Bieber with his pastor, Carl Lentz. Lentz is a Hillsong pastor and has been close with Bieber for years, credited with baptizing him and help him turn to God through the turbulence of Hollywood fame and fortune.
Certainly, being able to reach a young star with the gospel and help him turn back to God after going astray is an important niche in ministry; celebrities need Jesus and Christians to help them just like anyone else. However, the photos that have surfaced of Lentz taking shots with Bieber in a New Zealand bar during a Hillsong conference are having other Christians object.
"Shots and cocktails were on the menu for the U.S. singer and his mate, Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz," wrote news.au.com of the two drinking at a bar, reports the Christian Post. The pictures have been criticized by Christians, including this open letter from a Simi Valley pastor, Joe Schimmel.
"[T]he chief concern from these images has to be how someone, who calls himself a pastor, is engaging in such an activity with someone who has a history of abusing substances," Schimmel said. "How can Lentz give an account for himself when he takes shots alongside someone who has been arrested and pleaded guilty to DWI?"
"As Christians, we are not to walk as the world does. We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession. How must this look to the non-believing world?" Schimmel asked. "Is it normative behavior for the Christian? Is it the sort of behavior that a shepherd leading his flock should engage in? That is not what I read when I pick up my Bible."
Lentz met Bieber through another well-known pastor, Judah Smith. He explained to Oprah on her "Super Soul Sunday" show, "Through Judah, I was able to become a friend of Justin. To make a long story short, his baptism was a moment where he was going through it and he was pulling himself up."
When Oprah asked Lentz if Bieber really wanted to "know Jesus," he replied, "He's serious. People say, 'What does it mean to be a serious Christian?' Look at Justin, he's a work in progress. He's never said he's perfect, he's never said he is the representation of Christianity, but I'm proud of him for admitting he's a Christian in the middle of and knowing he's going to have more problems. I love that about Justin."
Bieber has recently made news for cancelling the rest of his tour, upsetting many fans. Fellow artist John Mayer defended the singer by explaining his possible motives. What do you think of Pastor Carl Lentz taking shots with Bieber? Do you think it's wrong? Share your thoughts in the Comments! Thank you!