The Unashamed Compromise
Lecrae has a song, a book, merchandise 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 #KanyéShrug. His recent interview with the Cruz Show on Power 106 (Los Angeles) is a good example of that (faith discussion timestamp - 7:40). An excerpt is below.
J Cruz: What do you say to someone who enjoys your music but says, “I don’t necessarily believe”?
Lecrae: At the end of the day, if you can enjoy Chance’s music or Kendrick’s music you can enjoy mine. It’s not necessarily going to bust you upside the head with that [sic]...but I think if you want to start dialoguing with me as a person I mean that’s something I’m passionate about. I’m not here to like...it’s like...I have friends of all walks of life, all faiths [or]...lack thereof. We hang, we talk, we philosophy [sic] we dig in and I appreciate that…
J Cruz: ...That’s that fellowship.
Lecrae: ...Yeah! And it makes everybody grow and stretches everybody’s intellect and views on stuff. You need that.
Certainly, all Christians have had moments of missed opportunities to witness. (I know I have.) I do understand that this man was put on the spot in that moment and his words probably weren’t as eloquent or clear as he might have wanted. (That’s happened to me as well.) And I get that Lecrae possibly expounds on the Gospel with his interviewers behind closed doors. (Sometimes that’s necessary.) But what about those millions of people who don’t get the opportunity to “chop it up” with Lecrae personally? What about all of those people who were listening to that show and actually wanted and needed to hear a direct answer?
He’s worked hard to broaden his reach, yet now that he’s gotten it he swerves public opportunities to witness. What’s the point of reaching millions if one has to get with him one-on-one to benefit from the truth for which he is supposed to be an ambassador?
I once tried to give him the benefit of the doubt about these repeated misses. Nevertheless, evading public witnessing opportunities seems to be Lecrae’s intent. In some instances, he explains, it's because he's trying to maintain confidence with those he disciples privately. " I have personal relationships with a lot of these dudes off the mic, off the camera. You’re just not going to see the full gamut of what my ministry looks like from an interview," Lecrae once shared with Rapzilla. "So you’ll be disappointed, fans, if you’re looking at interviews waiting to see Lecrae be 'substitutionary penal atonement…let me tell you that the wrath of God abides on you...Romans 1:18 says this...' You’ll be very disappointed if you’re waiting to see that coming in an interview, I’m just going to tell you now.”
But who's asking him to break confidence with a disciple? And who said he had to go all theologian on folks? We're asking him to be ready to give an answer for the hope he has when direct, clear and organic opportunities present themselves (1 Peter 3:15)!
In another interview he explains he often "drops the ball" during his radio and televised interviews because he's predisposed with how the world views Christians. "[I]n that moment, when I’m talking to that interviewer, all I’m thinking about is, ‘This is going on MTV in front of people who have presuppositions about what a Christian is and who a Christian is.'" According to Lecrae, he uses these interviews to build common ground that he might share Gospel in the future with a broader audience. (Bruh! The audience don't get no broader than MTV!)
Sadly, this is also the philosophy that fueled his infamous “I'm a rapper. I'm a Christian. I’m not a Christian rapper” declaration. “I just don’t want there to be any hindrance to people hearing the music and ultimately hearing the gospel," he explains in an interview with WADE-O radio. And while this approach sounds reasonable on the surface it, unfortunately, implies he cares more about people hearing his music and what they think of him (and Christians) than them hearing the truth. It kicks the can down the road, ignoring the urgency of the Gospel message. And it outright undermines Romans 1:16, his favorite Bible verse.
Lecrae’s philosophy seems to suggest one receiving the Gospel is largely based on how they perceive us, and not on the power of the Holy Spirit. It also implies that something is inherently wrong with Christians that we must first correct or explain ourselves to other men before we can begin to do the work THE LORD ALREADY qualified us to do!
Of course the world will think us odd, strange, foolish and even judgmental. We have been born again (John 3:1-21). We are no longer conformed to the patterns of this world and our minds have been renewed (Romans 12:2). We belong to God. We are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that [we] may proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) . We most certainly are “outsiders” to them. But we needn’t be ashamed of that nor afraid of their faces (Ezekiel 2:6). The time we spend trying to prove we’re cool and worthy of the world’s acceptance is time we could be sharing Christ that they accept Him. God gives us clear and open opportunities to share His truth with the world. Lecrae likely gets them early and often. As such, he must be willing and ready to humbly and respectfully, yet boldly, share it when they come. I know many Christians struggle with this. So I pray for boldness for us all. May everyone reading this always be ready to speak the truth when witnessing opportunities come! The stakes are certainly higher for Lecrae given his sphere of influence. Nevertheless, this is also the life for which he willingly signed up. This is the platform he's always wanted. This is his duty, as a Believer - whether he’s a “Christian rapper” or “just a rapper” who happens to be Christian.