We Just Lost One: Bye Lecrae

TO THOSE WHO DEFEND LECRAE...

This piece hasn't been fun to write. It took me weeks to finally do it because I didn’t want to believe the pattern I saw shaping up during my research of his career. But I believe it was necessary, and I mean everything I've said in the most loving way. Yet, I know it will draw offense and many will feel the need to come to Lecrae's defense; and that's fine.  Though I hope they come to realize they're not doing that man any favors. I hope they'd have a heart to prayerfully consider at least some of these observations and ask the Lord if there is any merit to them. Someone needs to pull him aside and seriously check and pour into him. If there be any mature Believers in his immediate circle who truly love him, I pray they’re discipling him as much as he claims to be discipling his secular rapper friends in the world.

But in case they're readying their defenses anyway, I'd like to preemptively respond to a few of the most popular ones I've received to date:

“A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
— Jesus (Matthew 7:18-20)

“You don’t know his heart!”

Indeed, I can't search hearts and can only speculate motives. But I can see. The depths of one’s heart isn’t what the Lord says He knows to determine whether they are lukewarm. “I know your WORKS that you are neither hot nor cold,” sayeth the Lord (Revelation 3:15, emphasis mine). Some translations use the term “deeds”. Others use the phrase "the things you do". In the end, the Lord is making it plain here that He knows our ACTIONS; and ACTIONS can be clearly SEEN, especially by those paying close attention. Moreover, Jesus said "You shall know them by their by their FRUITS" (Matthew 7:16, emphasis mine.). Fruits are what we produce. It is the outward manifestation of what is rooted inside a man. We don’t have to first know the depths of a man's intentions to know what he's actually done and is doing. Knowing one's intentions might guide how we address someone's actions - whether we address them with compassion or sternly. But this knowledge doesn't change the reality of what has been done.

"Cut Lecrae some slack! It's hard being in the public eye."

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
— Jesus (Mark 8:36)

I'm sure it is. That's why I don't want to be in the spotlight. But Lecrae did. We might say the Lord called him to this platform. And, on some level, I believe He did.  But whatever the Lord calls us to do, he equips us for.  The Lord anoints those He sends to do His work (Luke 4:18). Yet Lecrae actively and strategically pursued mainstream fame. He fully admits it. So he's not a victim of circumstance any way we slice it. While I do honestly pray for him, I don't pity him nor will I compromise the standard to which he is to be held. He's either there because the Lord put him there or because he desired to be there. Even if he ran ahead of God and has gotten himself in over his head, so be it. It will be the best blessing in the world for his soul to come to realize that. If his faith be true, it will either keep him close to God or send him running right back to Him.

So yeah...no slack shall be cut; not from my perspective as a Believer or a fan.

"Stop speaking on what you don't know!"

Judging Lecrae’s fruit and sharing what I'm see is no different than a sports fan speaking on Lebron’s basketball skills and game performances. Most of Lebron’s fans don’t know him personally. Many of them probably haven't dribbled a basketball in decades - if ever. But they watch his games and measure his performance against a given standard to know whether he is or isn’t a quality player. They hold him up against a standard he full well knew was present when he chose a career in the NBA. Those of us concerned for Lecrae aren't doing anything different. We don't need to know him personally or also be "rappers who happen to be Christian" to watch and critique his movements...to know whether his movements were or weren't wise calls. And we measure his movements not against our own opinions, but by God's word, as we are instructed to do (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13).  As long as we aren't hypocritical or condemning (damning) the man, all is well. Righteous judgment is not a sin. In fact, it is fully encouraged (1 Corinthians 2:15).

"You are a modern-day Pharisee! Lecrae's just trying to reach sinners like Jesus!"

First, Lecrae is NOT trying to reach sinners "just like Jesus" because if he were, he'd be preaching the Gospel at every opportunity. He's admitted that he does not do that, and he's admitted that sharing the Gospel is not his primary nor urgent focus. Second, the Pharisees tried to block Jesus from sharing the Gospel (Matthew 23:13-16). I, and people like me, are not trying to block Lecrae from sharing the Gospel.  We're trying to figure out why he stopped doing just that. Third,  Jesus didn't reach out to sinners for the sake of building "common ground" or to befriend them that he might be able to share the Gospel with them "in the future". This is what Lecrae says he does. Fourth, to be clear, Jesus didn't "hang" with unrepentant sinners. NO ONE "hung" with Jesus and remained in their sins.  Jesus didn't befriend sinners for the sake of social justice activism or to make a bomb album for the good of "the culture". He engaged them for the sake of sharing the Gospel to "call sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:30-32).  He called them for the sake of the Kingdom of God. He hung with his disciples, who were repentant; and He only called them his "friends" after they came to know and follow his teachings (John 15:15). Fifth, The Pharisees were wrong in their judgment of Jesus's ministry because they judged Him from their own man-made rules and traditions, rather than the truth of God's word.  They and other religious leaders were either hard-hearted or in error because they did not "know the scriptures nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). They were blind guides - just like Lecrae and his camp are shaping up to be if they keep partnering with projects that push heresy and error and cosigning artists in the world whose lives and music undermine the truth.   

"Just Pray For Him"

I am, I do, I have and I will. But praying for him doesn't mean I and others shouldn't still sound the alarm or speak on what has become abundantly evident. Lecrae's efforts to save the world puts his own soul and the souls of those in his sphere of influence at risk.  While he may be well-intentioned, he's the perfect pawn for the enemy. Peter said he "walks around seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). Peter should know. He walked with Jesus yet Satan desired to sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31). SIFT! To isolate, separate or scatter. And Satan sought Peter because Peter was initially double-minded before he was firmly planted in his faith.

Lecrae might not be committing overt sins, but his guard is down. His faith is compromised. He might not ever go the John Givez route and begin cursing in his music (Though, I suspect, if he did it might be excused as a "third person rant" in which he's artistically expressing the sentiments of someone still in the world. But that's another post.)  But his willingness to fellowship with darkness for the sake of "redeeming through positive change" is welcoming all manner of confusion and deception that is captivating him and can lead others astray. So, I'll certainly continue to pray for him. I earnestly pray his faith is strengthened. But after I say "Amen" I'll be on this blog or on social media somewhere screaming "Watch out!"

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
— Jesus (John 15:18-20)

I SAID ALL OF THIS TO SAY...

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's not to say he doesn’t believe in God. It means he isn't yet (or is no longer) fully commitment to God and His truth because he’s also devoted in the world. He's, unfortunately, trying to serve two masters, which is just as bad as not serving God through Christ at all (Matthew 6:24)!

If we are professing to be Christian, which is to say we follow Christ and obey His commands, we will show evidence of that. And that evidence will NOT contradict Him. Even in our imperfections and moments of “dropping the ball”, we’ll still honor the Lord through repentance and taking corrective action going forward. We wouldn't consistently make the same mistakes, make excuses for our mistakes and then blame others for not understanding our "complexity and nuance".  

Most of us in the Church have given Lecrae a free pass based on his past works. But since we’ve noticed a change and he’s admitted that he's intentionally moving in a new direction, we should probably reevaluate him rather than allow him to coast off of his past glory.  The irony, though, is Lecrae wants us to trust his current movements based on his previous reputation while also not wanting to be held to his past. It’s this mindset that allowed him to accept his 2017 BET award for Best Gospel Artist while simultaneously dissing and distancing himself from the entire category during his acceptance speech. If that doesn't scream wavering between two opinions, I don't know what does (1 Kings 18:21).

So, I am greatly concerned for Lecrae. I mean that with all sincerity.  But we can only speculate the problem. He's had a more contentious relationship with the Church than he has with the world, leaving some to speculate Lecrae was never truly part of the Body. He's been quick to identify with "hip-hop" culture while being overly eager to ditch the "Christian" genre, leaving some to speculate he simply pimped Christian hip-hop (CHH) to get his foot in the door. I tend to believe he actually began truly strong in the Lord with sincere intentions all around. In the natural, I just think he’s gotten caught up in the trappings of fame and fortune and couldn't handle the conflicts and pressure that comes with being a full-fledge celebrity and a full-fledged Christian, so he watered one down that he might solidify the other. In the spirit, I perceive he's being sifted (Luke 22:31). 

Nevertheless, in songs like Sidelines and I Know, Lecrae says our speculations don't hold water.  He seems to have heard it all, and he says all is well. As such, I say let's just leave the man alone. Let him go. May he go into the world and enjoy it to the full. We’ll eventually come to know to whom he truly belongs by the way he fares on that side. If the world chews him up and spits him out, he’s most certainly one in Christ (John 15:18-20). And when he returns, I pray we welcome him back with open and loving arms. But if the world fully embraces him and his star continues to rise, by this will we know that he belongs to them and always has.

In the meantime, I'll be watching, praying and warning. But as far as I'm concerned, we just lost one. Bye Lecrae.