The name Justin Bieber doesn't normally inspire thoughts of religious fervency, faith or Christianity. But at his recent concert, many felt like they were being led by a religious leader during a revival.
During "An Evening With Justin Bieber" at the Staples Center, this is exactly what transpired, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The presentation is a total surprise for those who are only familiar with a tabloid-hunger singer whose exploits seem to mirror the same bloodied and worldly image he is constantly being portrayed in staged photo shoots.
Now there is hardly a trace of a half-naked Justin beaten to a bloody pulp, or a sullen-faced pop star caught walking out of a prison cell after bail.
Instead, the crooner tries to uplift his audience with talks about keeping a positive spirit and staying around encouraging people. In fact, his pastor Judah Smith, among others, sits in the audience. This is accompanied by his performance of songs from his new album, "Purpose," which tries to be as obviously Christian as it can get.
Earlier, Charisma News reported that Bieber's new album sports not just a transformed message but a sound as well. With the help of Skrillex and Diplo, and songwriting partner, Poo Bear, Justin belts out meaningful songs to the tune of upbeat dance music.
One example of his deeply felt songs with a moral (and conscience). In "Sorry" he sings an apology for his alleged misdeeds and promises to change his ways. Meanwhile, in a gentle piano ballad called "Life Is Worth Living," lyrics like "He gave you direction, showed you how to read a map for the long journey ahead" naturally point to a Savior as the primary drive for the song.
These themes should not come as a surprise given the fact that the artwork on the album cover (a shirtless Bieber with a tattoo of a cross on his chest.) "Purpose" has already been banned in several Middle Eastern countries, and other predominantly Muslim countries in Asia, such as Indonesia. Critics have called it "too religious."
One thing is for sure: many of his fans have embraced the change, which at the very least is a positive one.
In 2014, Bieber tested positive for illegal drugs and had regular encounters with police. The experience hit him so hard that he decided to "revisit his faith.'"
Recently, the star has claimed that he wants to "live like Jesus." "He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, He (died) for our sins," Bieber said in the interview with Complex Magazine.