From the very top, let me confess something to you: As some of you know, I am absolutely NO fan of hip-hop. The bling-bling, the cars, the women, everything connected to the hip-hop lifestyle, turns me off. I am not moved by the pulsating beat, the lyrics–usually about women, drugs, and cribs that have more rooms than I could ever live in in a lifetime. Most of the time I think it is a lot of noise, with no redemptive value whatsoever. And it is certainly nothing that a Christian should ever be listening to. We are supposed to be thinking on things that are “lovely…and are of good report”(Phillippians 4: 8). Clearly, rap music, or hip hop, has no place in the life of the Christian.
Or does it? How about Christian hip hop? How about Christian rap? Often times I have heard preachers condemn that as the highest form of heresy, syncretism at its best. Syncretism is the practise of taking something sacred–like music with Christian lyrics–and mixing it with something regarded as unholy–such as rap or hip-hop beets. After all, they say, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2: 15) which is indeed in Scripture. The Scripture goes on to say, “If you love the world, the love of the Father isn’t in you.”
On such basis, they are ready to run anyone outside the church who listens to, or dares say they are ministered to, by this particular genre of music. Certain denominations regard it as sin, and anyone who challenges that paradigm, is preached into the pits of Hell. They say that we are to be Holy, and Holiness means a separation from the world. If the ladies of the world–the people who do not yet know Christ–are wearing make up, then female Saints should make sure they are 180 degrees removed from that. No make up. Make up is a sin. If you wear make up then you are a floozie on your way to a Devil’s Hell.
Now I will never buy a record by Flame, one of the popular Christian Hip Hop artists of today. But I must say that I like his song, “Who Can Pluck Us.” The lyrics are a hip-hop way of expounding on the Biblical truth that no one on Earth can pluck us out of Jesus’s hand. (Sidebar: We can CRAWL out of His Hand, and into Hell, but that is another paper altogether.). Nor will I ever attempt to own any copy of any record by the Gospel Gangstas.
But I am not going to put my mouth on it either, and say that it is not of God, either. This could be something that is really ministering to someone out on the street, in South Central Los Angeles, in the Crenshaw area, or in the Projects of Detroit. Some of these young bruthas will NEVER darken a church door, or pick up a Bible, unless they happen to be attending a wedding, or a funeral. And the last time I checked, my Bible tells me that we are to “go out into ALL the world, and we are to preach the Gospel to every creature”(Mark 16: 15). “Every” includes the hip hopsters, as well.
The way I see it, hip hop is a culture unto itself. It is the music most young people, black, white, blue, green, purple, and polka dot, listen to. I will bet you my arms and my legs that if I asked someone among the high schoolers I find myself substitute teaching, “Who is T.I.?” or “Who is Ludacris,” they would be able to tell me. These are the people they listen to, and in order to reach them–to a certain extent, then, we need to learn to speak their language. We need to learn to build a rapport with them.
Indeed, if we come at this generation of young people the way we did the crowd of 1969–we may get a few looks like we are crazy. If we try to make them fit our paradigm–forcing songs such as, “Amazing Grace,” “How I Got Over,” and “I’ll Fly Away,”–we may get very few converts from this generation. The Apostle Paul Has said, “I have become all things…so that I might win some” (I Cor. 9: 22-23).
You might say, “Hit ’em with the Word–make them come up to your level, don’t stoop to theirs!” And keep in mind that there is some truth to that. We cannot come at them cussing and using demeaning language towards women, as the world would come at them. We cannot indulge in sin in order to win them, for then not only are we not benefiting them, we are jeopardising our own souls’ salvation. But we can become enough like them to build rapport with them, and to speak their language to the degree that we can talk to them.
And we can try to understand where these kids are coming from. Someone cared to reach out to get us before it was too late. We can try to build a rapport, and try to understand why they act the way they do. Some of them come from broken homes, and from homes where the parents either are drug pushers, or are customers of drug pushers. What are you going to say to the daughter whose mom sells herself on the street to buy dope? “Gee, God loves you, come to church?” NO! You got to get to her where she is.
Thus, my opinion is, if artists such as Gospel Gangstaz, Flame, and Trin-I-Tee are even reaching one soul for the Kingdom of God, and writing and performing lyrics that are expanding God’s Kingdom and bringing Him Glory, then more power to them.
Maybe these acts are doing exactly what God called them to do, and they are using their talent for His splendor.
Just something to think about.