Do you ever wonder what the audible voice of God sounds like? It’s a pretty silly thought to entertain, but I dare to say impossible to avoid. We spend so much time conversing with God, waiting to hear from God, sometimes I just cant help but wonder. Would it sound something like Morgan Freeman? Laurence Fishburn? The wizard of oz character? What if it sounded like a secular rapper from South Central Los Angeles by the name of Murs?
1 Kings 19:11-13 Then he said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in The Lord’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.
Recently, well-known Christian Hip Hop website rapzilla posted a video featuring Murs, a secular rapper from South central L.A expressing his opinion on rappers in the Christian Hip Hop community rejecting the title/label “Christian Rapper”. After giving props to several Christian Hip Hop groups and sharing his appreciation and respect for the genre he goes on to say “That’s why it’s hard for me now, why I have so much conflict with Christians rappers when they say I don’t want to be labeled a christian rapper, I’m like why not? Why wouldn’t you?” With a sense of deep concern and conviction he begins to fumble though scriptures such as Revelation 3:16 So, because you are luke warm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. And Mathew 10:32 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I deny before my father in heaven.
Murs expresses disappointment in seeing his little cousins going astray from the church due to the influence of well-known Christian Hip Hoppers distancing themselves from the title “Christian Rapper”. Murs says in reference to his kid cousins ” I’ve seen them come and go in and out of the church, because there is no one standing up for Christianity, and making it a cool thing.” He goes on to say “When they hear their favorite rapper say well I’m not a Christian rapper, what does that make a kid want to say? I’m not a christian I’m just a man of God?”. Eventually Murs discredits his opinion saying “I want them to say I come in the name of Jesus, and this is what I’m doing. But I can’t force them to do that, and I don’t live this life so my opinion on this whole stuff is kind of irrelevant”
On the contrary Murs opinion is actually very relevant. A word not only for the Christian Hip Hop community to consider, but for the entire body of Christ. Beneath the surface subject of christian rap, there is a much deeper implication in regards to the identity and purpose of the Church overall. Hearing Murs heart on the matter, considering the scripture references, and examining the overall oddness of a “non christian” being so passionate about Christians being more passionate, convinces me that A.) God chose Murs to be a momentary minister to deliver a meaningful message; and B.) That God is certainly working on Murs heart and beckoning him to come home. So lets pray that Murs does come home.
Let me make it very clear that I disagree with Murs point that “Christian Rap” is a financially lucrative business with the potential to generate millions of dollars (Millions of souls yes, but dollars? Maybe not). Although I’m sure in some context, to some degree it can be monetarily prosperous, (Proverbs 18:16 A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.) monetary gain should never be the primary cause, purpose, motive, or intention for promoting the message of Jesus Christ. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians chapter 9) he speaks to both sides of this coin. 1 Corinthians 9:14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should earn their living by the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:18 What is my reward? To preach the gospel and offer it free of charge, and not make full use of my authority in the gospel. Paul expresses the minister’s right to reap material benefits for the work of sowing spiritual things, but also makes it clear that he would much prefer to waive this right, and instead although free from all people, willingly become a slave to all, in order to win more people for Christ.
Keep in mind as we listen to my brother Murs opinion, that the message of Christ is flawless, the messenger(s) on the other hand are not. Majority of what Murs had to say I agree with and believe to be biblically sound, far outweighing the few points I disagree with. I often have a similar experience listening to spirit filled preachers at church, so it isn’t new nor difficult at all for me to overlook certain things while still being blessed by the overall message. A grace we ought to extend to our brothers and sisters in the Christian Hip Hop community as well, as they(we) wrestle with titles, motives, and messages. John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgement. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 But test everything; hold fast what is good.
So does this guy Murs even have the necessary qualifications to speak on Christianity, and Christian Hip Hop in the first place? A few years ago when I rededicated my life to Christ I would often witness to a close friend of mine. His response was often this; “you remind me of my co-worker. He is a Christian too, and he raps, I want you to meet him.” At the time I had no intention of doing Christian rap, on the contrary I was actually in the process of quitting music all together as The Lord began to reveal how much of a crutch and idol it had been in my life. So I took lightly, & disregarded my friend’s suggestion. Self righteously I smiled on what I perceived to be his ignorance on the whole matter, not recognizing, and therefore rejecting a word from the very God I had been so desperate to introduce him to. My friend never gave up asking me to connect with his co-worker, and eventually I did. In short, his co-worker and I instantly bonded over our shared love for Jesus and music, started a Gospel Hip Hop ministry, and watched our mutual friend who God used to connect us, give his life to Christ at a bible study in my living room weeks later. God is speaking, but are we listening? Do we limit God’s voice to the pulpit, and or fellow like-minded christians? Here are a few examples of God speaking through the unlikely, and unqualified. Actually the entire bible is an example of God speaking though the unlikely and unqualified.
God speaks to Moses, through a bush. Yes… A burning bush. Exodus 3:2-4 Then the Angel of The Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire within a bush. As Moses looked, he saw that the bush was on fire but was not consumed. So Moses thought: I must go over and look at this remarkable sight. Why isn’t the bush burning up? When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to Moses, Moses! “Here I am, he answered.”
God speaks to Balak king of Moab through Balaam the sorcerer. Yes… A pagan sorcerer. Numbers 23:11-12 “What have you done to me?” Balak asked Balaam. “I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you have only blessed them!” He answered, “shouldn’t I say exactly what the Lord puts in my mouth?”
God speaks to Balaam though a donkey. Yes… A donkey. Numbers 22:28 Then the Lord opened the donkeys mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”
The light of God shines in and through OUR hearts. Yes… Our, hearts. 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
God can and will speak through whom ever he wishes whenever ever he wishes, and we being children of God must remain spiritually sensitive enough to recognize his voice. Simply put, When the story is odd, the glory is God’s.
So… What’s the big deal anyway? Since when did a title have so much importance and significance? Well a title determines responsibility. Ever turn down a promotion because you didn’t want the added responsibilities of the title offered you? To adamantly disassociate myself from a title is to clearly express my desire to be free from that titles responsibility, obligation, requirement, and to maintain the liberty to act outside of that title without guilt or consequence. So what message are we conveying when we embrace the title of “Rapper” but reject the title of “Christian Rapper’? Which by the way is pretty confounding being that the title “rapper” certainly has plenty of negative baggage, stereo types, and stigmas, yet we are proud and unashamed to claim that title; meanwhile eager to drop the Christian part from the title because of its baggage, stereo types, and stigmas. Huh? The argument that we make music to share the gospel with the world and save the lost, therefore we market our music to the world and not the church doesn’t add up either. What if on Sunday morning your pastor said, “This is no longer a Christian Church, it’s just a church that happens to have Christian members. In order to better reach the lost, we will no longer carry the title christian. Also we will read less scripture, and share more practical stories instead.” Well unfortunately this kind of thing is happening, and it’s causing quite a bit of confusion both in the church and the world.
Who is our target audience? The majority of people who listen to gangster rap, are not actual gangsters. Unfortunately many can be influenced, and eventually adopt the attitudes and habits of that expressed in the music they listen to. In the same way not only christians listen to christian rap. Fortunately many can be influenced and eventually adopt the attitudes and habits of that expressed in the music they listen to. Therefor christian rap can be as much for the world as it is for the church regardless of the label. The world needs the bible as much as the believer does, actually more so than the believer! So if the Gospel is the Gospel for the sinner and the saint; couldn’t Christian Hip Hop be the same?
Ultimately our lives ought to be our greatest testimony; certainly not a title or label. Of course we understand that every judge isn’t just, plenty of people parade around with a huge name badge declaring their “faith” and yet their lives sadly do not reflect the title they represent. A title is just that, a title. Even still, call it Christian, call it disciple of Christ, call it believer, call it whatever; if it points to our association with Christ let that be in all CAPS and upfront and let our name, our craft, our art, our work, and everything else be in its shadow. Murs message is a cry for the Christian Hip Hop community, and the church overall to take more ownership of our faith and to truly be unashamed in every area of our lives. The world needs the church to be the church. Like a child needs a parent to be a parent. Although a child may rebel, and dispute the ways of their parent, ultimately the child craves the order, security, clarity, limitations, discipline, stability, correction, and stead fastness of their parent. When that isn’t present the entire family suffers greatly. When it is present, and consistent; more than likely the child eventually will revert back to the values and morals he/she once debated. Proverbs 22:6 Teach a youth about the way he should go; and even when he is old he will not depart from it. 1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Lastly lets prayerfully and humbly consider this scripture.
1 Peter 4:14-16 If you are ridiculed for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests on you. None of you, however should suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a meddler. But if anyone suffers as a christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name.