There is a story of a group of 2nd Century Christians who demanded to be martyred by a Roman official. The official obliged and martyred some and sent the others away saying there were plenty of cliffs from which they could jump if they wanted to die. These Christians seemed to have turned the warning of scripture to expect persecution into a command to be martyred.
My family does local and international missions. We establish personal relationships by providing a professional service and have used these relationships as a springboard to share the Gospel and stay engaged for a prolonged period of time. If we were to mix our professional service with our personal, relational evangelistic efforts, we would compromise the work of thousands who are laboring to proclaim Jesus.
I tried to express to someone on twitter that Lecrae, Christian Hip Hop’s most successful and recognizable artist, was possibly using this missionary tactic to reach what would be considered an unreached people group (the Hip-Hop Industry). The Christian Hip-Hop community is currently having an intense debate about what the mission of the Christian rapper should be. Lecrae has become the focal point of this debate. For some, any rhyme which does not speak of Christ and Him crucified is tantamount to a compromise of the Gospel and of friendship with the world, thus entering into enmity with God. They call for an end to any secular associations.
This twitter conversation ended with me being accused of saying that friendship with sinners was a requirement for evangelism; of twisting the Gospel. It was even expressed that a missionary in a hostile country would be a coward and lacked faith if he didn’t simply preach the Gospel in the middle of town square. If this led to arrest or martyrdom, then so be it.
Fans of Lecrae know he began his career by ministering to kids in juvenile detention. More recently, he was featured in ESPN for his work with professional athletes. The song “Confessions” may refer to this work. His record label has launched Reach Life Ministries, the ministry arm of Reach Records. They produce curriculum designed to reach to an urban generation unfamiliar with the Bible. They also organize the Reach Life Institute, a series of conferences designed to equip believers to evangelize.
In the last year, Lecrae began deliberately making music which would appeal to a secular audience. He did so by crafting rhymes which speak of the ills of self-promoting Hip-Hop culture and the effects of depravity (gravity) pulling the world down into a sea of despair. His rhymes are laced with references to his Christian faith and morality and can in no way be accused of being dishonoring to God. They are, however, a departure from his past work which was typical Christian Hip-Hop fare; good quality music with sermon-like lyrics.
I don’t know Lecrae. I’ve never spoken to the man nor do I have any connections to anyone in CHH. The Bible commands us, however, to judge people by their fruit. With a history of ministering within difficult cultures (prison, professional sports) and of equipping the saints, why doubt his stated intentions to impact the culture and the industry?
Would we ask a missionary to not use his God-given talents and skills, or his God-given favor with people in authority to reach as deeply as possible into a totally lost culture?
Might as well jump off a cliff.