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Justin Bieber stumbles

January 24, 2014

Well, it seems as if Justin Bieber has been acting foolishly…again.  He was arrested in Miami for drag racing, allegedly while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.  It remains to be seen what comes of this latest incident but one thing has already started – late night TV comedians and dozens of bloggers across the internet are having a grand time ridiculing the young man.

You could make the point that he had it coming to him.  He seems to have been in some sort of young-celebrity contest to see who can act the most outrageously.  If so, my guess is that he’s pulled ahead of Miley Cyrus.  But still, seeing some of the mocking reactions has been painful.  Nobody seems to have a kind word for him.  What is it about celebrity screw-ups that seem to set off so much glee?

I can’t help but think that it comes from a sense of pleasure in seeing someone we didn’t like all that much in the first place run into trouble.  You see it in politics.  Republicans were gleeful over the sins of Anthony Weiner and San Diego mayor Bob Filner.  Now Democrats are chortling over the troubles Chris Christie and former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell are facing.

Prominent evangelicals are no strangers to being targets of such ridicule.  If John Piper or Mark Driscoll or a dozen other evangelical celebrities (And yes, celebrities is exactly the right word to describe such folks.) say or do something even slightly stupid people, including some other Christians, pull out their ridicule guns.

Ridicule hurts.  It has always seemed to me that one of the primary fringe benefits of “leading quiet and peaceable lives” is being too dull to be worth mocking.  I suspect it hurts 19-year-old billionaires as much as it does celebrity pastors.  Yet it is so easy.  I see a story about somebody’s problems and the jokes and snarky comments that could be made just sort of pop into my head.  I have this gnawing fear that I am really quite good at mocking.

Even if I manage to keep my mouth shut I find the jokes of others all too funny.  There is an allure to telling the joke or being in on the joke; to being able to feel just for a moment that, in spite of their celebrity, they are worse off than me.  The problem is that it sounds all too much like the Pharisee’s prayer “Father, I thank you that I am not like this man.”

In my heart of hearts I know that these things need to be a reminder that I, a recipient of the grace of God, need to show grace to those who stumble.  I need to remind myself that “love is kind” should cause me to, at the very least, keep my mouth shut.  I know that the quickest and best way to stand out from a culture where mockery and ridicule is commonplace is to cease mocking those who most need the very grace I have received.  God grant me the grace to do it.

 

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