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Earlier this week Hip Hop artist, Lecrae, visited the set of 106 and Park. As someone who grew up watching the show, it was a bit surreal to see one of my favorite artist on that set, though he has been on the show a few times now.

Most Christian hip hop fans thought that the day when a CHH artist would be allowed on the big stage like 106 and Park was nothing more than a dream. Now to all of our surprise, it’s a reality. The time has come.

Different people longed for this day for different reasons. For some, we insecurely longed to be accepted and affirmed by the world. If the world thinks we’re “hot” then we must be “hot”. Yet others are excited about the fact that this is a great ministry opportunity and they desire to see the glory of Christ displayed to the masses. I would imagine that for most it’s a mixture between the two.

We should also factor in the “minority effect”. Most Blacks understand this all too well. Many Blacks experienced this during the 2008 Presidential Election. When Obama was elected into office, whether Blacks voted for him or not, some felt proud of the fact that we lived to see our nation elect the first Black President. This was sort of an accomplishment for some. It gave some and other minorities hope and a sense of ownership of the U.S. This is not an endorsement of Obama, just a reality for many.

CHH is the minority in the music community and for some time now, we have been the laughing stock of the Hip Hop community. Therefore, when a CHH artist is doing big things, CHH fans feel like they’re doing big and exciting things as well.

The CHH community has had mixed reviews when it comes to Lecrae’s performance since he started receiving mainstream recognition. Of course, you have your extremists on both sides: Those who will follow Lecrae into the depths of Sheol and those who are convinced he’s illuminati. My aim is not to address those two camps directly, though I believe that members of said camps would benefit from what I have to say. I want to address genuine critics, who I think are genuinely concerned about what they are observing. In a separate article, I hope to address the guardians, those that defend where Lecrae is and what he’s doing. No promises. I’m more concerned about the critics.

Here are 3 things critics should remember.

1. Jesus Represents the Church. We all realize that Lecrae, like all Christians, is a representative of Christ. Sadly, the negative reaction has communicated that some think that Lecrae is the ultimate and only representation and that the fate of Christianity hangs on what he does and does not do.

Yes, Christians are ambassadors for Christ, through which God makes his appeal (2 Corinthians 5:20). We represent the kingdom of God by what we say and do. Therefore, all Christians should aim to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. As Paul states in Ephesians 6:20, we ought to “declare it [the mystery of the gospel] boldly.”

With that being understood, I would caution critics to remember that Christ is the head of the church, not Lecrae. Whether Lecrae knocks every question out of the park or not, Jesus is still running things. He is the sovereign Lord of all. We must rest in that. I think some are losing sleep over Lecrae. Even if Lecrae is faithless, Jesus will always remain faithful.

2. Lecrae is trailblazing unexplored territory, so be sympathetic and patient. This is my lengthiest point because I think Christians fail at this often. I’m sure most can say, “I would have said this or that.” Don’t be that guy. When you do, you’re the equivalent of that 5’0 kid on the sidelines at basketball games telling me, the 6’6 guy, what he would do if he had my height or if he was playing my position. Again, don’t be that guy.

The Christian should be extremely gracious and sympathetic, attempting to put ourselves in Lecrae’s position and humbly recognize the difficult challenges he’s facing. As I watched Lecrae the other day, I saw a mixture of nervousness and excitement. He had more pressure on him than most have when they come on the show. It seems he was attempting to be real and honest without being cliché and preachy. He wanted to answer the question that was asked and not go into a tangent that was not asked of him.

106 and Park Live is no Larry King or Oprah. Lecrae was on the clock. The way I see it, if he had given an answer that would have satisfied his critics, he would have either talked too long or only had time for cliché church jargon that to undiscerning ears, would not have sounded much different than what hip hop is use to hearing Christians say.

Was Lecrae perfect in his answers? No! As much as some of his guardians hate to admit it (mainly because trolls will take this and run with it), the interview could have been handled better. There is always room for improvement. In so many words, Lecrae admitted this much on his Facebook page:

If I’m honest the Cheif Keef question I was asked on 106 and Park threw me for a loop. I wasn’t ready for that one. I don’t think they were asking a theological question as much as they were asking about his sincerity and I wanted to demonstrate grace. I had a lot on my mind, fighting thru internal pressure, and time restrictions. So I was beating myself up a bit after that wishing I could go back and elaborate more, but by Gods grace I ran into Keef that night and got to chop it up with him! I’m sincerely praying for him and do believe God is up to something.

I don’t think he should beat himself up and I hope and pray he is extending as much grace to himself as I’m begging you – his critics – to extend to him. I’m not saying I would have done much better considering the time restraints, distractions, and questions that require lengthy explanations in order to answer them properly. He just didn’t have time.

I think love and prayer is crucial. I don’t mind critics being genuinely concerned. Lecrae is a sinner and human just like the next Christian. He can make mistakes and is as prone to wander away from truth as any of us. I would, however, caution you to take those concerns to God in prayer and NOT Twitter. Whether you realize it or not, you kind of come off as a troll. No one likes trolls, not even trolls themselves. Keep calm and pray for Lecrae (sorry I had to).

As Lecrae continues to blaze new trails, I think we will see him become more comfortable and improve at interviewing. I wouldn’t want to be in his position. I can’t imagine the stress, fears, anxiety, and pressures that come with a big stage.

3. Trust the local church. I can’t say this enough because I love the local church and I believe in its authority. We must embrace the authority of the local church and trust that they are asking the hard questions. Lecrae has a pastor, fellow church members, and a team (Reach Records) that love him and know him a lot better than you do. Trust that they are holding him accountable, rebuking when necessary and encouraging him to remain faithful. If we hear he has left the church all together, let the trolls out, but until then pray for the elders that God has entrusted him to. Pray for the small group that he’s a part of. I promise you that their words will carry more weight than yours will via Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

After I watched the interview the other day, I had an epiphany. While I was stressing over Lecrae, I had my own sins to attend to. There were people around me that needed my love and attention. I want to challenge you to be more proactive and militant against your own sins. You do more of a service to Jesus and the Church if you were more concerned about your own representation of Jesus and your siblings in your local body. Are you praying for them? Are you loving them? Are you reaching out to them? Do life on life with those around you, not your favorite rapper at another church, most likely, in another city or state. It’s easy for us to vehemently call people out across social media, yet we’re afraid to face those around us.

I’m not suggesting you start trolling in your local church. Trolling is no good regardless of where you do it. I am suggesting that you embrace the Gospel, kill your own sin, and graciously be a good brother or sister where you are doing life. Encourage the downcast, love the sinner, mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, and correct the wayward remembering your wayward ways lest you fall into temptation (Galatians 6:1).

I’ll leave everyone apart of this conversation with the timely words of the Apostle Paul:

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, ESV)

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