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On New Believers

May 3, 2013

I was reading articles on The Christian Post website earlier this week and found a story about Victoria’s Secret model Kylie Bisutti who ceased modeling and turned to Christ.  You can safely follow the link to her story if you want to because it is, after all, The Christian Post and there won’t be any pictures of her in her underwear.

The article was interesting and you have to give the story overall high marks for the fact that it is about “our side” winning.  Of course, there were a few amusing comments in it.  At one point it seems that the poor girl discovered that she “was being paid to strip down and pose provocatively to titillate men” and I do have to wonder how long it took her to figure that out.

At the low point of her anguish over her job she tells us she cried out to God and asked “why did you have me win the Victoria’s Secret angel competition if it was going to make me feel this way.”  While I suppose I am comfortable with Miss Bisutti’s Calvinist leanings, I am not sure it is a good idea to imply that her being an underwear model was somehow God’s idea.

But these are minor points and I am glad that she has decided to make a wise and God-honoring choice in this matter.  It seems that her next endeavor is to launch a Christian clothing line for young women and I am happy to hear about this.  I wish her well.  In making this decision Miss Bisutti has joined a list of high-profile Christian celebrities.  Over the years we’ve seen many actors, athletes, political figures and the like make public announcements of their faith to great fanfare.  I always sort of hold my breath when that happens.

Some, like Charles Colson or Tim Tebow go on to prove that they walk their talk.  Their notoriety brings attention and some negative press but you must admit they stay true to their beliefs.  Others, particularly young ones, seem to stumble around and cause people to wonder what they are doing.  Miley Cyrus comes to mind.  Still others, even when they mean well, lack the depth and sophistication to articulate their faith clearly.  Angus T. Jones of Two and a Half Men is an example.

As near as I can determine Miss Bisutti is 19 and might seem to fall into this younger “at risk” group.  So how do we respond?  I think the first thing to remember is that all of us were “new” believers at one time and prone to slipshod theology, gaffes and stumbling.  It is easy to tell what Miss Bisutti meant by her two quotes above, even if they were not expressed perfectly.  Grace requires us to be kind, patient and accepting as we encourage them.

It helps when you see the fire that new Christians bring to their faith and how it sometimes puts us older folks to shame.  Look at the woman at the well in John 4.  This brand-new believer with the barest scrap of theology that Jesus gave her was a mighty witness.

Celebrities also face pressures we do not.  Their missteps are public and seen by all.  Yours and mine tend to be seen only by a small circle of friends.  It takes courage to stand up in public and say “I’ve changed” when you know that many folks are eager to see you stumble.  As respects Miss Bisutti, the poor girl is already being attacked by many, including Victoria’s Secret.  We should join the chorus of heaven in rejoicing in her faith but also continue to pray for her.

As a caution, we need to not get caught up in the concept of celebrity that saturates our culture.  We accept and rejoice with Miss Bisutti.  It is easy to see how she could be a good influence on many young women and men.  The victory of her faith is worth a loud amen but it is no more, and no less, than any other person coming to Christ.

Finally, if there is one thing clear in Scripture is that God values finishing well.  My prayer for Kylie Bisutti is that she grows in grace and truth and finishes well the race before her.

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