03 May Lecrae: Read part of the thought-provoking epilogue in new book
Two-time Grammy Award-winning artist Lecrae’s first book, Unashamed, will be published on May 3, and the memoir’s conclusion could challenge the worldview of readers.
An excerpt of the book begins after the line break below.
Lecrae started his Unashamed epilogue by telling a story about a 12-year-old mentee of his named Dante who had become confused when he heard Lecrae, a Christian, listening to Thug Motivation rapper Young Jeezy’s music. Dante, who wasn’t a Christian, thought Christians could only listen to “Christian music,” as opposed to “secular music.”
In “God’s Poetry,” the title of Lecrae’s epilogue, he uses this anecdote to segue into an explanation of his worldview, which had grown different than Dante’s over time.
His view of Christianity was mainly coming from me and my music. Somehow he had gotten the idea that following Jesus was all about what he did, not who he trusted. He assumed that “Christian” music was just for Christians and “secular” music was just for non-Christians. In his mind, the two genres and audiences should remain separate. I’ve never forgotten that conversation, and it was one of the catalysts for rethinking the music.
Most of the non-Christians and many of the Christians I know see the world like Dante did. Like I once did. They think they view the world through a single lens, but really they are looking through bifocals. Half the world is sacred, holy, or good, and half the world is secular, unholy, or evil. But when we see the world through a divided lens, we can easily end up living divided lives. We act one way in church or any other “sacred” space. Then we act another way when we’re out with our friends in “secular” spaces. And the result is that the things of God rarely come into contact with or influence the world.
The solution to this problem is to begin to develop a biblical worldview. While nearly 80 percent of all Americans claim to be Christian, only 9 percent have a biblical worldview. If you are a follower of Jesus, this should frighten you. Because more than likely, you’re in the majority and probably don’t even realize it.
So what is a biblical worldview, and how should it change the way we live?
A biblical worldview is, by definition, rooted in Scripture. So we begin at the beginning. The first chapter of the book of Genesis. It is a familiar story of a God that creates, of a serpent that tempts, and of two humans who commit the first sin. Here we find the basic elements of a biblical worldview:
1. God creates all things. So we know there is a single, sovereign, transcendent, all-powerful God who is creative and artistic. Because He declares His creation “good,” we know that matter matters. The physical world is not just an intermediate place we exist until we die and go somewhere.
2. God creates humans in His image. This means that every person is uniquely valuable. They are not just objects to be used for pleasure or progress. Every person is the object of God’s love; and therefore, they should be treated with dignity and respect.
3. Despite having God’s image, the first humans disobeyed God. The story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit is my story and your story too. We all reject God’s rightful rule over the world, disobeying His wishes for our lives. Sin leads to brokenness between humans and God, each other, and themselves. If you want to know what is wrong with the world, the answer is always sin.
4. God promises that one day the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve will be crushed. This reminds us that while we should not minimize or ignore sin, we do not live in despair. We have hope. God has not abandoned His creation. He sent Christ to crush the serpent. When Jesus lives in us, we have the same power to stomp out the sin that the serpent has brought into the world.
These elements remind us that the world God created is “good.” Things aren’t inherently evil or bad. But they have been tainted with sin. Because of Jesus, we don’t need to see culture as something to be avoided. It is something to be engaged. You cannot stomp something you’re running away from. You can’t influence something you never encounter.
A good example of a biblical worldview is Daniel. I like Daniel. If he were alive now, we’d probably hang out. In the Bible, Daniel was an advisor to a king named Nebuchadnezzar. Working for the king was a pretty good gig, but things got weird when the king had some crazy dreams. Nebuchadnezzar wanted to know what they meant, so he summoned his advisors. In those days, interpreting dreams was a pagan practice. If Daniel was wearing bifocals, he would have seen this as a secular action. An evil action. Something that people who serve God didn’t do.
But Daniel didn’t see the world like that. He knew that, as the Psalmist would later write, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” So Daniel went to God, and God told him what the dreams meant. When Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams, the king was impressed and appointed Daniel his chief adviser.
Now if Daniel were living in our world, he might have turned down the job and enrolled in seminary. But he didn’t. Because he saw this “secular” job as part of his “sacred” calling. And because he didn’t see the world as divided, he took the job and was able to speak godly wisdom into Nebuchadnezzar’s life.
This has changed the way I do music. There is no such thing as Christian rap and secular rap. Only people can become Christians. Music can’t accept Jesus into its heart. So I am not trying to make Christian music or secular music. I’m just making music. Hip-hop, like all music, is a good thing. I could use it for evil by filling it with violence and misogyny and profanity. Or I can use it to glorify God. Every song I write doesn’t have to have the Gospel spelled out or quote Scripture so that people will know I love Jesus. My goal is just to use my gifts to produce great art that tells the truth about the world. If I see the world through a biblical lens, the music will naturally paint a picture that serves people and honors God.
Excerpted from Unashamed by Lecrae. Copyright 2016 B&H Publishing Group.
Learn more at UnashamedBook.com.