….He straightened up and said to them (scribes and Pharisees) “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her”. ~ John 8:7
In the news recently, there have been several stories of celebrities who are finding faith and publicly announcing their change of heart. Just to name a few: Justin Beiber, Selena Gomez, Kanye West, and most recently Demi Levato was baptized in the Jordan River. People of all walks of life, celebrities included, coming to Christ and having newfound faith is not new and has been happening for centuries. In our day and age, it becomes sensationalized due to the baseness of Hollywood and the music industry, so that many people are shocked by these conversions. However, what I find MORE shocking is the attitude of professing Christians in response to them. What I have found in the comment sections on social media, from professing Christians, has been disturbing.
I do not know a single Christian, who accepted Christ and suddenly became perfect. Perfect in thought, mannerisms, dress, speech, actions, etc. Transformation is a process, not a “suddenly”. Romans 12:2 says “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”. So, why do we expect celebrities to be perfect at the moment of their salvation? And who are we to judge (immediately) if their profession of faith is genuine? Has your faith come under such scrutiny? Would you continue in the faith if, as you were learning a whole new way of life, the entire church was against you and spoke against you, expecting you to fail? Do you even want to see celebrities saved, or do you think that they don’t deserve to be?
Brothers and sisters, this has to stop! Consider Matthew 18:7 “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to the man through whom the stumbling block comes!” As Christians we are admonished to speak to each other with hymns and spiritual songs. We should be lifting these celebrities up and praying for them. ENCOURAGING them in their faith instead of bashing them because we do not know whether they are genuine or not. That is not for us to sort out at this stage. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Yes, there is a time to judge ALL men by their fruits. But think about what that means for a moment. Fruit is last evidence of life from a seed. A seed is planted, then watered, then a tree sprouts and grows and weathers storms until it’s strong and has deep roots. Only then can it start to produce fruit. Fruit is the visible product of growth and health. Without growth and health, there will be no good fruit! This takes time! We don’t expect newborn babies to immediately be able to pass a bar exam, so stop expecting baby Christians to suddenly get it all right. They won’t, I won’t and you won’t, so we need to stop putting completely unreasonable expectations on them!
It was this very same lack of love and grace, as well as expecting the letter of the law from the religious crowd, that Jesus called out! He was angry with them for their wrong attitudes towards people…especially when they refused to look at their own sin. (See the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and how Jesus responded to them. Or how He spoke to the religious in Matthew 23.)
Hebrews 10:24 admonishes us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” and we should very well be doing that for love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Let us stop sitting on our pedestals of sand, looking down with scorn at newborn babes of the faith, and instead encourage them, love them, prayfor them. We should especially pray for them. As celebrities, they have pressures normal people don’t face, and they work in industries ready and willing to crucify them for having faith in God. Let us show ourselves to be a support rather than a stumbling block.
Lastly, let us check our own fruit. Is our fruit good or bad? What does the world see based on our own actions, comments, dress, habits, etc? Are we exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit? Does our daily life reflect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? If not, then perhaps we are in no position to throw stones. And if so, then those attributes should result in no desire to throw stones anyway.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from the thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits”. Matthew 7:15-20