Justin Bieber has called out celebrity pastors who elevate themselves and act like they have special access to God.
His comments to GQ magazine follow the firing of Carl Lentz, his former mentor and close friend, as lead pastor of Hillsong NYC last November for “leadership issues” and moral failures.
Bieber was just one of the many celebs that Lentz was pictured hanging out with over the years.
The pair formed a close friendship when Bieber left his bad boy days behind and re-committed to his Christian faith.
But after the scandal, Bieber and his wife, Hailey, reportedly unfollowed Lentz’s Instagram.
Although Bieber didn’t mention Lentz by name, in his interview with GQ the “Holy” singer said he had seen “so many pastors put themselves on this pedestal. And it’s basically, 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.’ That’s not the reality, though. The reality is, every human being has the same access to God,” he said.
But he’s grateful for his best friend, Churchome Pastor Judah Smith, who he credits with helping him find answers to some of the big questions he was wrestling with.
“I came to a place where I just was like, ‘God, if you’re real, I need you to help me, because I can’t do this on my own. Like, I’m struggling so hard. Every decision I make is out of my own selfish ego,'” he recalled.
“So I’m just like, ‘What is it that you want from me? You put all these desires in my heart for me to sing and perform and to make music—where are these coming from?
“Why is this in my heart? What do you want me to do with it? What’s the point? What is the point of everything? What is the point of me being on this planet?'”
After laying out all these questions before God, he received the clarity he was longing for.
“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,” he said.
Smith has been a big part of Bieber’s Christian life, baptizing him and Hailey in a lake last year. Bieber also recently livestreamed a sermon by Smith to his 170 million Instagram followers and the two have worked on prayer podcasts together. Smith also features in Bieber’s new gospel EP, Freedom.
Bieber also told the magazine that Smith had modelled a healthy family life that he hopes to emulate with his own wife.
“It was something I always dreamed of because my family was broken,” he said.
“My whole life, I had a broken family. And so I was just attracted to a family that eats dinners together, laughs together, talks together.”
Bieber’s concern about Pastors who give off the impression that their congregation does not have equal rights to God as they is an issue that must be tackled, because this attitude has caused more self guilt than healing among congregation members.