With Cardi B's rapid rise to success, it's easy for many to presume she's being showered with God's favor and blessings. At least, that's how she and many of her fans tend to see it. Yet, as I watch fame, money, and influence inundate this young woman at warp speed, I've grown increasingly and genuinely concerned for her. Not that my concern should at all matter to her, but I share it knowing that Cardi professes Christ, yet lives a life completely counter to His Word. And because she's super vocal about every and all things - and her fans tend to hang on to her every word - I would be remiss if I didn't respectfully interject where Cardi believes her faith and her career intersect.
Black Panther did well to bring black representation to the big screen, and I was delighted to see men and women who look like me playing roles that weren't of the “thug” or “slave” variety. Black despondence nor dejection were on the menu for this film, and I am 100% here for it. I’m also here for the diversity this film brings to media and entertainment. As far as film productions go, Black Panther was quality all around, and I sincerely believe it is Oscar-worthy. It really was THAT good!
But as other moviegoers across social media have shared their feedback on the film these past few days, the hype has reached a level that has caused me concern for my people - my Family in Christ.
Many Americans are having a hard time grasping why Christian baker Jack Phillips declined to make a custom cake for a gay wedding. One would think the conflict is obvious, but there are many who seem to be appalled, if not downright enraged, by Mr. Phillips and his position. There's been very little attempt to view his position with care and understanding. Instead, there have been tweets, Facebook posts, thought pieces and political pundits seemingly committed to dragging the man through the mud. They say Mr. Phillips wasn't motivated by sincerely-held convictions to decline to make the cake. They say he was motivated by "bigotry"! They say he was motivated by "hate"!
I say that is malarkey.
I say, those who desire to malign Mr. Phillip’s convictions aren’t only being grossly disingenuous, they're being wholly hypocritical.
Lecrae is not a Christian rapper. He’s said this time and time again since about 2012. For many in the Church, however, this has been a tough proclamation to grasp. But it’s high time we finally accept it. It’s time for those of us who have been clinging to him to let him go and instead embrace the fact that Lecrae is free to do and be called whatever he wishes. If removing the “Christian” label from his identity is what he really wants to do, I say we fall all the way back and let him do it. After all, as he once said, “If I was a plumber, I wouldn’t say ‘I’m a Christian plumber’”. Touché! I can totally respect that perspective.
But here’s the thing: Lecrae previously indicated his music wasn’t merely his vocation. He treated it like his ministry. On numerous occasions he claimed his ultimate goal was to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. His favorite Bible verse, Romans 1:16, and many of his songs presented him to be one who was unashamed of the Gospel. He said he would tell the world about Jesus EVERYWHERE he’d go. So what does he really mean by, “I’m not a Gospel rapper” and “My music isn’t Christian” when he, himself, once told the Church AND the world:
““That’s why it’s Christ in my rhymes
That’s why it’s Christ all the time
See my whole world is built around Him
He’s the life in my lines”
— Lecrae, "Don't Wast Your Life" (2008)
That’s how he introduced himself to us. So, as I prepare to fall back on the kid and officially bid the new Lecrae adieu, I wanted to at least express where many of his original fans are coming from that he might understand why it’s taken us so long to accept his new direction - a direction he might call "growth" yet so many of us discern is regression or "falling away".
According to Lecrae, the “Christian” label is a hindrance to his “ministry” (sorry, his “career”). It blocks him from taking his ministry (I mean his music) to the world - a world that wouldn’t typically buy a Christian record. To ensure he reaches the most souls possible, he doesn’t wish to be confined to any category - especially not “Christian”. But he readily confesses he’s “authentic to hip-hop”. He says this is why he’s more comfortable around “Sway over Hillsong” and why he’s able to “befriend the Kendrick Lamars and the Chance the Rappers” of the world.
Since Ferguson, Lecrae’s been much more vocal about racial injustice, and he’s taken some heat for that. In recent interviews he’s implied this backlash has come because American Christians are just too privileged to “get it”. According to him, the American Christian culture sees a black man speaking on such matters as being “too black”.
But as a Black Christian, I’ve have to interject and say, NO, my brotha! That is NOT the heart of the issue.
Lecrae has a song, a book, merch and did a whole tour on being “unashamed”. And while he’s crossed over into the secular music world, my understanding he’s still part of the 116 Clique (referring to Romans 1:16). Nevertheless, every time he does an interview or public appearance and someone asks him a direct, faith-related question, he swerves and hits folks with the #KanyeShrug.
With intimate ties to the Church and the world, Lecrae has been introducing the Body to much deception and stumbling blocks as of late. Whether intentional or out of sheer naiveté, a man who has worked this hard to cross over for the sake of impacting lives hasn't been as careful as he should be with how he moves. As I said in the intro to this piece, Lecrae is free to do whatever he wants wants. After all, he has free will. However, as a professing Christian he is accountable to God first, but ALSO the Body of Christ. And while he has Christian liberty, that liberty is limited by love - love for God, fellow Believers and even unbelievers. Whatever any Christian does has to be filtered through how it would honor God then how it would be most beneficial to their own walk with God as well as how it might impact the faith walk of others.
Lecrae is not a Christian rapper. He is a rapper who professes to be a Christian who happens to compromise a lot. He’s shown us this time and time again since about 2012. For many in the Church, however, this has been a tough reality to grasp. But it’s high time we finally open our eyes and accept it.
He’s giving off strong signs of being a lukewarm Believer and this, unfortunately stands to negatively impact all who look up to him. This doesn’t mean he lacks sincerity in what he does believe. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in God. It means he’s lacks full commitment and loyalty to God and His truth because he’s still also devoted in the world.
Huffington Post Religion recently published a piece entitled "The Bible Has No Place in Modern American Society: Sobering Lessons from Donald Trump and Kim Burrell". But as the author, Keith Burton, attempts to argue why the Bible is a "dangerous book" that needs to be "delegitimized" in America, he inadvertently makes a case for the VERY reason the Bible is so necessary for us today. Read on as I highlight the various follies and ironies that Burton (and the Huffington Post) present to (unintentionally) undermine their own case.