Justin Bieber's Surprise Gospel-Inspired "Freedom" EP Renews the Soul
With much chaos currently taking place throughout the entire Earth, it is extremely easy to focus on every single negative. It is very simple to just give up and go with the flow of the world. Through both this global pandemic and continuous quarantining (for some), some days are good, while others are simply draining. As a believer in Christ, there are days when it seems nearly impossible to keep the faith and focus on the Lord. But, despite these overwhelming moments of suffering, pain, loss, and confusion, we must fight, and continue to push on. On his surprise-released, EP, Freedom, Justin Bieber not only reinforces this message but reminds us of who is in control along with other Kingdom messages.
Released on Easter (Apr. 4) without any announcement or promotion, Freedom follows merely two weeks after the pop star's sixth studio album, Justice which recently debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts. The concise six-track project blends the talents of gospel & R&B artists such as Tori Kelly, Chandler Moore, Lauren Walters, Pink Sweat$, and the dancehall artist/producer, Beam. Also along this list of features includes both interludes and spoken word from churchome pastor, Judah Smith.
The EP's minimalist yet symbolic artwork serves several meanings. Beginning with the time "3:16," Justin alludes to the iconic scriptural reference of John 3:16 where believers are reminded that God loved us so very much that he allowed his only begotten son to descend from glory to be ultimately sacrificed so that we may live and never die. The battery could suggest that we as people are finite beings. We constantly need to be renewed, replanted, and revitalized through and by the living word of God. Although just one word, the word "Freedom" is powerful as we are liberated by/through God's grace, love, and everlasting mercies.
If you didn't get the memo already, yes... I am a Believer in Christ & I love God so very much.
Freedom's opener and title track pairs JB and Beam together yet again for another breezy, dancehall-styled vibe. While the tropical production may initially entices you, Justin and Beam begin to minister through their lyrics as they bring praise to the name of God and denounce the Satan. Calm and serene, they remind us that not only are we forgiven, but the very God we serve is a LIVING God. Beam enhances both the message and appeal as he sings about our Lord and Savior dying, resurrecting, and paying the ultimate cost for our sins.
Because of this sacrifice we are freed from a life of eternal damnation and Justin highlights this very freedom asking every listener, "don't it (freedom) feel so good?"
"We're In This Together" showcases Justin telling the very story of his life from the beginning to its current state. He looks back on his early days, his rise to fame, his fall, and the recovery. He gives the glory to God as he praises his name for keeping and holding him together through his mess. Even during his darkest days, God kept him and he makes sure to give him the honor. By the end of the song, we are no longer listening to Justin Bieber, the mega pop star, instead we are being blessed by Justin Bieber, the vessel. Having experienced both public highs and lows, he knows it's only by God's very grace that he is still here. He ends the song by praying a moving, impactful prayer over the lives of every listener under the sound of his voice.
Smooth production continues on "All She Wrote." Tapping on both Chandler Moore & Brandon Love, the song finds Justin acknowledging the need for God. While questioning himself, his faults, his heart, choices, and more, he highlights the thirst and pure need for our savior. While trying to find various methods and substances to mend the emptiness within, nothing seems to fill him... except the Lord. He asks God is there more to this life, or essentially is this "all that she wrote." Brandon Love's flow compliments the very message as he raps about having a relationship with God rather than following traditional religion, receiving God's forgiveness and more.
As listeners continue to trek through the EP, they arrive at the first standout of the EP, "Where You Go, I Follow." JB, the worshipper fully steps out as he sings about following God every single step of the way. He sings about the Jesus defeating death permanently before crying out that there is not a soul on this planet like Him. As he pours his spirt out, the anointing hops from him right into the your spirit as you receive the revelation of how great God is. You start to look at everything the Lord has brought you out of, everything that was meant to take you out, and you're nearly ready to weep by the time Pink Sweat$ hops on the track.
Sweat$ mimics this same energy as he passionately sings about the Lord being his beginning, the reason that he sings, the air he breathes, and much more. And if you're not riled up by then, once you reach the blessed being that is Chandler Moore on the bridge. While brief, Moore's words stir inside of you as he sings about trying everything to mend his damaged heart, but only God is the remedy.
By the end of the song, Judah Smith begins to speak towards the skepticism about Jesus being our savior and why we sing about there being none like him. It's the revelation of how great God is that swells up on the inside of you as you listen, leaving you ready to just get in the face and presence of God.
Now, the most personal anointed point of this project arrives at "Where Do I Fit In." Tapping on Tori Kelly, Chandler Moore, and Judah Smith, Justin delivers (in my opinion) not only the best song on this project, but one of the best songs he's ever created.
UTTERLY personal, relatable, and heartfelt, Justin begins the song reflecting on the very moments when we are alone and the sea of thoughts that plague our minds. These thoughts leave us questioning who we are and where exactly do we fit in. In the midst of this trouble, Justin ministers to listeners, reminding us that GOD reminds us that he holds us in the very palms of his hands. Not only does the Lord wash yesterday's sins and trials away, but he assures us that we will be alright, we can make it, we are more than conquerors, and he will NEVER leave us nor forsake us.
If tears aren't flooding your eyes already, the anointing that is Tori Kelly makes sure to have them crashing down with her verse. Kelly sings about paralyzing fears and insecurities that try to stop us in our tracks. Immediately, she is reminded by God holding her (and us) tightly, staying loyally by our side. Chandler Moore jumps right in as he sings about God not being a God that hides on the mountains but comes directly to us even in our darkest moments. By the very end of the song, the water works are on full blast as Judah Smith ministers a quick sermon to listeners assuring us that God hears us, loves us, and is constantly working for the very good of each & every one of us. He leaves every listener peacefully resting in pure faith that God is great and his mercies are everlasting. Because of this, it will be alright.
Freedom's final song, "Afraid To Say, finds JB being vulnerable as he sings about being judged by the world, society, and people. In a time of "cancelling" people and trying to ruin everyone's image for mere publicity or fame, there is a lack of maturity - the very maturity that as believers we are to have. Instead of picking one another up and spreading love and light, we belittle one another. Justin sings about wanting to grow but being afraid. In the end, he remembers not to listen to the words of the world but focus on the truth in God's. At the end of the day, no matter what we do, God never leaves us. In our most unloving states, He is still there with his arms open to us. He made us with a purpose and his love for us is infinite.
Ultimately, while this EP is not something to top charts, or receive acclamations or awards, Freedom does exactly what it is supposed to... minister. It touches the very hearts of those who engage it. From beginning to end, you are blessed, encouraged, and reminded of where our strength truly comes from. In my opinion, Freedom acts as a representation (not the only one but one nonetheless) of the modern Christian today. No we are not perfect. Yes, we sin daily, and will continue to both knowingly & unknowingly, but God is always faithful and just to forgive us. While we are not perfect, we do strive for perfection much like our Father.
This pandemic has not been easy for any of us. I know for myself, an area that has been affected heavily is that of my thoughts, fears, and insecurities. This EP revitalizes you, it renews your mind, and shifts your thoughts back on the creator. If you've been down in any way, shape, or form, you are quickly reminded of the strength that God has placed on the inside of you. Everything that was meant for our defeat cannot come to pass because of who God is. That revelation boils inside of you as you meditate on the very words within this project.
I'm so grateful for this project. Since returning to the limelight last year, Justin's life change is a full example of how God has the final say... Whether you like him or not is no one's concern but your own. Sometimes we are so sidetracked and distracted by such trivial matters that truly do nothing for our spirits. But one that is certain is that God is using him as his vessel. And if both this EP, and his testimony encourages anything, it is that I too desire to be used by God. I pray that my craft, my body, my words... my entire being is used how God sees it suitable to be utilized.
Justin, continue to be that light for so many. I heavily look forward to what he does next.
You can listen to Justin Bieber's Freedom EP here!