I confess: I missed the Teen Choice Awards Sunday.
When Justin Bieber strode onto the stage of the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles on Sunday (Aug. 7) night to accept a Teen Choice Award, he thanked his fans profusely, then quickly turned his attention to something more eternal.
“I wanna say that anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” the Canadian superstar said, grasping the award’s blue-and-yellow surfboard that towered over him by several inches. “You gotta keep God first and always remember to keep family first.”
Then, pointing toward the crowd with a sweeping gesture, Bieber added, “Jesus loves every one of you!”
It’s hardly unusual for celebrities to give God a shout-out at award shows. In fact the phenomenon has become so ubiquitous that one critic wondered whether throwing out “God props” had jumped the shark.
But what young Bieber said is different. It wasn’t the rote “I want to thank Mylordandsaviorjesuschrist” that we’ve heard so many times from the awards podium, often uttered by artists collecting prizes for music or films that would be hard-stretched to conceive as honoring the Creator. (See: Plenty of hip-hop and rap artists.)
Bieber, who is never shy about talking about his Christian faith, went beyond the approved script for Hollywood expressions of faith, invoking the “J-word” and taking it several steps further by telling whoever was listening that they are, in fact, loved by Jesus — and not the less specific “God.”
Anyone who has paid attention to the Cinderella story that is Bieber’s warp-speed rise from obscurity in small-town Canada to the most popular teenager on the planet will know that in addition to being cute as a button and preternaturally talented, “the Biebs” is a bona fide
person of faith. In fact, he’s indicated that the name of the album he’s in the studio recording right now will be “Believe.”
Rarely does Bieber, who turned 17 in March, miss an opportunity to talk about his faith, whether in an interview with Rolling Stone, on numerous talk shows or even on the red carpet. He seems keenly aware of the blessings that have come his way and exactly where they have come from.
“All the blessings I have come to me from God,” Bieber told Rolling Stone in February, adding that he feels obliged to “plant little seeds” of faith with his fans. “I’m not going to tell them, ‘You need Jesus,’ but I will say at the end of my show, ‘God loves you.”‘