The Word of God gives us several warnings about not allowing ourselves to be fooled.
James 1:16, “Do not be deceived my beloved brothers.”
1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, bad company ruins good morals.”
1 John 3:13, “Do not be surprised brothers, that the world hates you.”
I recently woke up to find one of my brothers sharing a tweet in our group chat that finally pushed me into putting into words something I have been wrestling with for a long time. I am not about to tell you something new. In fact, the conversation has been growing in the past few days. What I do hope to accomplish is to push the conversation forward a bit more and perhaps into a more specific place.
The company we keep and what we associate ourselves with matters. Remember, we are to be in the world and not of it. That world hates us.
We need to take a long look at what we are allowing and passing off as acceptable within the culture of Christian Hip Hop.
We need to be aware of what we are cosigning and what we are telling the people that we impact.
We need to show Christ in all things.
The lines have been blurred in a short amount of time. It is not a coincidence either. CHH has grown both in size and, most importantly, quality over the last decade. You can put the culture up against the mainstream and it will hold its own. So why are we looking more and more like the world? Most importantly…
Why are we allowing the mainstream to impact the way that we are carrying out that which God has called us to?
Let me reel it in and address what caused all of this.
I see many who align themselves with CHH who often discuss mainstream hip hop artists. I get it. When Outkast is playing anywhere you will see my head turn. The ATLiens are my secular weakness. Current artists who are often the topic of discussion across social media are J. Cole, Kendrick, and Chance the Rapper.
I see dudes, even those who are at the top of the CHH food chain, who talk about Cole like he is the greatest ever. Don’t get me wrong, I am not denying his skill, but I would love to see us talk about CHH artists in the same way as the discussions of Chance and Kendrick. It seems that any time a “Who is in your top 5 or top 3” question is brought up, the people we group ourselves with get left out. Why not see my timeline filled even more with J Monty or Tobe Nwigwe mentions? These are guys that are easily on par with their mainstream counterparts.
I know the impact mainstream hip hop has on me personally. That is why I have had to cut it out of my life. I struggle with anger and secular hip hop aides in triggering that. Say what you want, music has power and it is certainly more than just words. It is believed that Satan had a musical role before he fell, so what makes us think that he wouldn’t use music against believers today?
To me it seems like that is exactly what he is doing. Remember, he is also the ultimate trickster.
We have been witnessing several mainstream artists that work content into their songs that appear to be faith-based.
We hope to see these artists turn to Jesus and start making music in the CHH realm. We think about how cool it would be if these artists were “on our side”. That in and of itself is fine. However, it appears that we are allowing these same artists to place themselves above not only faith but God himself…and it seems we are okay with it. It is scary and something that we need to change. We will know if what they say holds water by their fruits. The outlier does not define, it is the pattern that speaks.
Take the lyrics by J. Cole, shared via video on Twitter, that set this whole thing off and honestly had me concerned about him receiving praise within the culture.
“God is real and He’s using me for a bigger purpose
So f — — the world that will have you think that a n — — worthless
Sometimes I think that these verses can help a person way more than the ones they reading in churches on days of worship
No disrespect to the Lord and Savior that ain’t just ego
I just observe that them words no longer relate to people
Cause modern times be flooded with dollar signs and social media stuntin’ my n — — — just want to shine
They frame of mind so far removed from the days and times of Nazareth
Like these days in a labyrinth in a maze so elaborate we barely get through half of it before it’s too late
My n — — — is felons from selling weight in more than two states
Two-two in his waist before he could even shoot straight
Quick to draw on you like …. recruit a n — — who fate
All of that to say maybe the hood need a new faith
A new story about a boy from not too far from where you stay”
When you see the words in black and white, I believe it becomes even clearer as to what is very wrong with what is being said. Hearing these words over a beat, with melody and flow, can “hide” the concern to a point. I mean it sounds good, you can vibe to it, and it sinks in without thought. To an extent it makes sense. Then again, the serpent made sense in the garden as well.
Mr. Cole, you are correct, God is indeed real and He has a purpose for us all, including you. That I can agree with you on. It is the bolded lyrics that cause great concern.
How can we as Christians cosign on someone who believes their verses can help a person more than the God-breathed scripture?
I get that people have grown weary of the baggage that is attached to American church culture. There are scandals, inconsistencies, poor theology and the list goes on, but those lay at the feet of the broken humans who make those mistakes. The Word of God, however, does not and cannot let us down. It cannot have less impact on the lives of the human race than verses penned by man.
It is not that the Word no longer relates to people, it is that people are not putting in the time to understand what the Word can tell them about their life.
Luke 11:28, “But He said, Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
John 8:47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Trust me…there are more.
The hood does not need a new faith to believe in. They need the Truth that resides at the Father’s right hand. They need to engage with that which can bring what they are looking for.
These words are the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. They sound religious. They seem to be making a strong point. They have the power to take listeners down a very wrong path.
I’m not here to tell you to not listen to J Cole, Kendrick, Chance, or any other mainstream artist. It is not my place. That is something between you and God. What I am asking is that we stop giving props to this sort of message. That we stop letting this type of belief into our hearts and minds so that it can corrupt our thoughts. That we say that this theology is WRONG. That we let unbelievers and believers alike know that what is being said is not true about our living God.
If we are being honest, it is a mockery. It is the same type of speech that probably caused one-third of the angels to follow Lucifer in the first place.
It all comes down to choice.
I am tired of being okay with people getting fooled. I am tired of artists who stay true to their convictions and sharing the Gospel constantly getting overlooked. The only way any of this changes is by our doing. We allowed these lines to blur, time to refocus.
We are CHH. We can certainly be used by God for His glory, but we will never be more important than the Most High. He can wipe the entire culture out if we are not pointing people to Him.
I’ve said this before, but it feels like it applies here, I don’t want to be a reason the rocks have to cry out and worship.
Yes, I am being passionate.
That is because I love the culture. I believe in what God can accomplish through CHH. I do not want to see that potential wasted. As much as we love hip hop, we have to be willing to put a line in the sand where it is no longer about the music, but about standing firm on the promise of the Creator. If something is a spade, then call it a spade. We cannot afford to be lukewarm. He has entrusted us with something much greater than streams, likes, and views. Do not lose sight of that.
I’ll pray for these mainstream artists who appear to have interaction with the truth, but fail to fully grasp its importance. I will never pretend that this sort of thought is okay.
I hope that my beloved brothers are not being deceived.
2 John 1:8, “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.”