The Game misses The Gospel

Posted: December 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

the_game_rapI recently found out rapper The Game now publicly claims to be a Christian.

Now, it is important not to judge too quickly when it comes to celebrities “finding religion.” As it is often quoted (usually out of context), Christians are not supposed to judge at all.

That isn’t true.

1 Corinthians 5:12 says “For what is it to me to judge outsiders? Do you not judge those who are inside? But God judges outsiders. Put away the evil person from among yourselves.” We, as Christians, are supposed to judge those inside the church. Obviously, the final judgement of a person’s soul is given by God, and we are all in the same boat there. But we are not called to simply accept sin in a person’s life without question (i.e. what culture today calls “tolerance”). Now, does this mean we should go around being jerks to people? Of course not. It does, however, mean that you care enough about your fellow brothers and sisters to call them out if need be. Let’s just say, if I was walking towards a cliff and didn’t realize it, I would want somebody to say something! It wouldn’t need to be “You’re walking towards a cliff, you stupid idiot!” but I sure wouldn’t mind someone coming alongside me in love and saying “Mike, there are some things in your life that worry me, because I think they will ultimately hurt you in the end.” There are different ways to judge the fruit of someone’s life, and it doesn’t take a genius to know which way gives Christians a bad reputation.

That being said, what did The Game actually claim? In a radio interview, he explained his upcoming album “Jesus Piece” (which will be released on Dec 11) like this: “I’m calling it ‘Jesus Piece’ ’cause last year in August I got baptized and so I’ve been going to church, but I still been kinda doing me out here. I still love the strip club and I still smoke and drink. I’m faithful to my family, so I wanted to make an album where you could love God and be of God, but still get it poppin’ in your life.” He believes he has a special message that may connect to people in his shoes. He continues, “‘Jesus Piece’ gives me an opportunity to speak about situations that people like me who love God but are still street and still wanna remain themselves…”

Jesus PieceThe new album’s controversial artwork features a depiction of Jesus as a gang member. Needless to say, he has come under some criticism. In response to those who have questioned his faith claims, he said, “I don’t want to feel like I can’t love God or appreciate Jesus and have to put down that blunt. I want to smoke, maybe shower up, then go to church. Get the word, walk out of church, maybe smoke again, maybe hit up a strip club or two and do me, but I don’t want to be ridiculed.”

So what should we think about all this? The Game is certainly not the first celebrity to claim allegiance to Jesus in the public sphere. In fact, recently Angus T. Jones (the kid from the show “Two and a Half Men”) recently made it public that he has committed himself to the Seventh Day Adventist church, calling “Two and a Half Men” (America’s long-running #1 comedy) “filth” and urging people not to watch it. Rapper DMX was recently ordained as a deacon and hopes to put out a gospel album this Christmas. So are these people legit?

Only time will tell, but there often seems to be little by way of understanding the gospel when celebrities use the public spotlight to promote their personal beliefs. It is not uncommon for celebs to thank Jesus in acceptance speeches or in liner notes of their latest album. In this sense, the spotlight can be both a blessing and a curse. It gives you the world as your platform when you are trying to figure out your new faith as a spiritual infant. When Brian “Head” Welch (formerly of the band Korn) gave his life to Christ, it was an incredible moment for him. As with most new believers, he was excited to tell everyone! The problem was, he began speaking about things he didn’t quite have a full grasp on. He had the basics, and he had zeal, but he wasn’t ready to be a public spokesperson to his former world quite yet. Can anyone think of a more antagonistic subculture to faith than the entertainment industry?

The Game seems to have some sort of belief in God. The question becomes, “What is the gospel by which one must be saved?” The Bible certainly doesn’t say you have to clean yourself up before coming to Christ. The whole point of the gospel is that you can’t do that, which is why you need help! However, Jesus was very clear on what it meant to be His follower. He said, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt 16:24) This means that you can’t choose to add Jesus into your life and then continue living in your sin. How can The Game justify going to the strip clubs while also following Jesus?

We must be careful not to turn the gospel into moralism or legalism, that says you must act a certain way to be a Christian. However, someone who believes they can follow Christ and yet make no lifestyle changes does not understand repentance. To follow someone means you have to leave other stuff behind. Picking up your cross does not mean encasing it with gold and hanging it around your neck as you indulge in sin. It doesn’t mean glorifying sin in your music and throwing out racial slurs and curses. It means a radical release of one’s life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. If we miss that, we miss the gospel. Jesus did not die for us so that we could embrace the very things that drove Him to the cross. The Game seems to desire a relationship with God. Pray that he discovers the beauty and freedom of releasing everything to the Lordship of Christ. May we do the same.

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