We Just Lost One: Bye Lecrae

The Social Justice Compromise

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 have to interject and say, "NO, my brotha! That is NOT the heart of the issue!"

The issue with Lecrae espousing “Black Lives Matter!” is he’s, meanwhile, either vague or mum on eternal life matters. The issue that I and many other Christians (even if only Black Christians) have had is his message has shifted from the Man Jesus to man’s “justice”. While he still somewhat alludes to his personal faith in his music, he’s much more intentional and direct with his social justice messages in his music, interviews, performances and on social media. He’s an activist now. The man who hates labels has come to label himself a “social anthropologist” (Whatever that is). Now he’s committed to “redemption through positive change”(Whatever that means).

But it’s fine. Because this is the new Lecrae. But even the new Lecrae says he’s still a Christian, and one would think a Christian with a platform he gained for claiming to be “unashamed” of the Gospel would use said platform to preach redemption through Christ! He’s getting attention for being outspoken and it’s caused him to suffer some controversy. Ok. So why not also be outspoken and endure controversy for the sake of the Gospel? We’re not even talking about music right now. This particular compromise isn't related to his art. We’re talking about matters near and dear to this man’s heart. (Since he believes it's possible to compartmentalize the two.)  We're talking about, after the music stops, when he’s a Christian taking to Twitter, Instagram and penning opinion pieces for the Huffington Post. Where’s his post about forgiveness and redemption in Jesus Christ on those platforms? Isn’t the Gospel also near and dear to him as a Believer? Can’t he also share that? Wasn’t this opportunity partly WHY he needed to crossover and broaden his reach in the first place? After all, what’s the point of an influential Christian boldly addressing racism - which is, indeed, a sin - without ALSO boldly sharing the ONLY message that can pierce a bitter person's soul that he forgive or a racist's heart that he repent? The Lord does NOT condone racism nor the evils of slavery, and God's Word demonstrates that. The Gospel of Jesus Christ demonstrates that!  Millions read the Huffington Post. What an optimal opportunity for Lecrae to share that truth with the broad audience he's always wanted.  

I get that racial justice is his passion. I get that it is a topic that even frustrates him. And Lecrae’s desire that more speak up on the matter is noble and understandable.  But it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not a “social gospel”, that ALL Christians are commissioned to share.  And it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that ALL Christians are charged to shout from the rooftops and the public square (Matthew 10:27; Acts 5:20).

So it isn’t fair, nor is it very brotherly, of Lecrae to demonize the Church because we’re not all up in arms to speak on what he says we should. We don’t answer to him. We don’t get our marching orders from him. But, as a professed Christian, he remains accountable to the Body, and the Body has been simply trying to remind him to look up! We've simply wanted to remind him to not forget his key talking point. It’s one we all share - whether a Black man, a White woman, a plumber or a rapper who happens to be Christian. We all are responsible for prioritizing and getting out Christ’s message. Our ultimate identity isn’t our race, but who we have become in Christ. The Lecrae we once knew, knew that. 

...stay focused
You ain’t got no ride
Your life ain’t wrapped up in what you drive
The clothes you wear, the job you work
The color your skin naw you’re a Christian first”
— Lecrae, "Don't Waste Your Life" (2008)

And while the world may not understand this concept, Jesus made it clear: The poor will always be among us (Matthew 26:11). Social ills will always exist. That is the reality of a fallen world. This isn't to say the Church should ignore them. It's to say that we, as Believers, should not attempt to individually shoulder the burdens of the world. That's a self-righteous approach and perhaps why Lecrae has been experiencing frustration and burnout. He is not the savior of the world, Christ is! We cannot focus more on the world's ills without also pointing them to the Cure.  "Silver and gold, I have none..." said Peter to the lame beggar. But what Peter did have had more of an impact. Peter healed him through the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ! Peter didn't ignore that man’s request. He just saw his deeper need and, by the grace of God, he addressed it with His truth and power (Acts 3). Christians aren’t here to simply feed the homeless, for example. While such efforts are helpful, noble and necessary for the day, we know better: they’ll be hungry again tomorrow. But WE have something the world can't give them. We're ultimately here to offer them the Bread of Life, which is eternal and always filling (John 6:25-59).

The ultimate justice is God's justice. The ultimate healing is the healing we receive through Jesus Christ. The ultimate peace is not peace on earth, but the peace between God and mankind (John 14:27; Ephesians 2:14-16; Romans 5:1). The ultimate life that truly matters is our eternal one. “Positive change” doesn’t change someone’s heart nor does it redeem their soul. If another Black life is lost at the hands of police brutality today, as grievous as that would be, the good news is there would still be hope for that life if that person knew Christ before they left this earth. Regardless of the pain they suffered here, they would see God and dwell with Him in peace and joy forever.  It is BECAUSE of the current state of our world does the world NEED to hear THIS message.  Even if they ultimately don’t wish to accept it, we have to tell them!

The old Lecrae seemed to know that. But he’s stopped dishing out soul food for the sake of attracting folks who only want perishable snacks. He’s said it himself that the Gospel is no longer his primary focus. He’s now here to “inspire”. So what, then, is he looking to inspire people to do? What hope is he hoping to give if he’s undermining and silencing the hope that he, a professing Christian, is supposed to have?