If you’re easily offended, please stop reading (and don’t listen to his masterful songs).
And other things that should be kept in secret.
But that’s Kendrick Lamar for you. A sinner in transition. A powerful rapper who is loaded with raw talent, ridiculous work ethic and a desperate hunger for all things God.
“Lord God, I come to you a sinner, and I humbly repent for my sins. I believe that Jesus is Lord. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I will ask that Jesus will come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. I receive Jesus to take control of my life that I may live for Him from this day forth. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for saving me with your precious blood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
That prayer is the intro he chose for Good Kid, m.A.A.d City; so that every time someone listens to his second album, they get exposed to his need for continual surrender. So according to Romans 10:9 (and according to our Western understanding of the “sinners prayer”) Kendrick Lamar is a saved as Billy Graham and as washed in the blood of Jesus as you and me.
Now, even though every other song he’s written has an echo of repentance, most people would not call him a Christian rapper.
Trust me, I understand why.
But I have a feeling that he’s the kind of man Jesus would have chosen to be around (and listen to). As in, if Jesus would have made Compton his headquarters, I think Kendrick would have been His Peter.
The Son of God was clear about who His audience (and fan base) was, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
And Kendrick Lamar does not pretend to be healthy, or righteous.
He knows where he stands with God and sin and pain and questions, so the authenticity of his music, sounds like an invitation to a generation that lost in the plastic world of fakeness and lull. Trying to be strong and wise when God is looking for the weakest child.
I now that it’s borderline uncomfortable to listen… yet somehow, it is necessary. Kendrick is a believer in Jesus who does not look or sound like one (according to the mainstream version of what a person who believes in Jesus should look or sound like). But he bleeds honesty in his words and he sings as a man hungry for God’s truth.
He’s not pretending to be clean, or correct, or worth listening to, he’s just being Kendrick Lamar, and I remember Jesus talking about those who worship in Spirit and in Truth.
As Reggie Ugwu wrote, “Though he has never neatly fit the description of what would usually be termed “Christian hip-hop,” Lamar has often seasoned somber soliloquies of navigating the gang culture that birthed him with Christian themes of good and evil, as well as the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Since the release of his platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated major-label debut Good Kid, m.A.A.d City in 2012, and a reported baptism while supporting West’s Yeezus tour in 2013, the centrality of Christianity to Lamar’s worldview has only grown more obvious.
Unlike most Christian artists who come from a traditional gospel background, like Kirk Franklin or Steven Curtis Chapman, Lamar has never restricted his purview to a discussion of things that are holy. For an incredibly famous rapper, his personal life may border on the ascetic: He doesn’t go to strip clubs like Drake, or smoke like Lil Wayne; he rarely drinks and has been in a monogamous relationship since before he became famous. But rather than preach about living a moral lifestyle, he gives full voice to his internal struggles and those of the people he grew up around, deliberately speaking in the language of transgressors.”
Yes, he’s uncomfortable and controversial, but maybe that’s because we did not grow up where he did, or seen the things he has. What he writes and sings is what he lived and thinks. We are just a witness to his journey towards God, even if it looks so different to ours.
As I wrote when Shia LaBeouf cursed his way through his testimony, “Unfortunately we identify “conversion” with behaviour management. We want new Christians to do less _____________ (drinking, cursing, fornication, etc.) and more _____________ (praying, tithing, posting Bible verses on Facebook, etc).
But those behaviour changes are the product of a relationship. The fruit of a new reality. So I am not in the slightest offended with his cursing. I’m excited with his statements.”
(And Jesus seemed comfortable being around “cursing men” – Mat. 26:74.)
Christian rap superstar Lecrae (who I absolutely love and support) is a personal friend of Kendrick Lamar. He says, “When you’re struggling with your girl or your mom is sick, it’s rare that you find someone that actually wants to talk with you on a real level. So being able to connect with him on spiritual matters is definitely something that I value and appreciate.”
Also, while speaking to Complex last year, Lamar said, “I got a greater purpose. God put something in my heart to get across and that’s what I’m going to focus on, using my voice as an instrument and doing what needs to be done.”
I’m grateful to have access to this incredible artist. Because Kendrick Lamar opens up a window into a life that is outside the paradigms of my Bible-Belt Christian living.
And God knows I need a bubble-bursts every once in a while.
I am not condoning cursing or unwholesome speech. I am not saying that what Lamar sings or promotes is right in any shape or form. His politics, his race, his story, are his.
I’m just saying that as a fellow sinner in need of Jesus, I acknowledge Kendrick’s voice, his journey, and his place in the family of God.
And if you easily offended, do not read the Bible.
And other things that should be kept in secret.
That’s precisely why it was written.
To show us that God meets us where we are, and not where we should be.
For Kendrick’s sakes, and mine.
Evangelism is not so much about reminding people about how lost they are. But how loved they are. – Randall Worley in Brush Strokes of Grace
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