It’s not everyday that you are going to see hip-hop slang as the title of a blog post by a thirty-something year old white youth pastor in middle America. But something has really struck me this week. I was sitting in Pastor Mike Kitsko’s class this past week and the discussion led to the statement, “Holiness must disrupt the dominant culture” (I realize that I just put Mike Kitsko’s name and hip-hop within a breath of each other). The reason that I start with a hip-hop title is that for years, hip-hop music was a way to voice resistance to the dominant culture that stood in opposition to a particular people group. Music and lyrics seemed to give voice to the frustration of a generation in a way that seemed so other-worldly to a white kid from Northwest Georgia. But, having a wife who enjoys hip-hop beats, I have come to appreciate the music more and more and as I start to understand the voice and emotion behind the music I am moved more and more (although I am still put off by the flagrant use of obscenities and the exploitation of women).
Hip hop music, at it’s core, is anti-establishment…but mainly because the perceived establishment held the members of the hip-hop community at bay. For instance take the lyrics from Talib Kweli’s The Beast: “The beast is out when the police is out They be pullin out and really showin you what peace about Upholdin the law that’s designed to keep my people down.” Often times in our dominant WASP culture we see the police as a good thing. That is not always the case in a culture that feels itself profiled and oppressed by that same power. This community sees the injustice being done and it has found a way to speak out against that injustice. The problem sometimes in our situation (assuming that a majority of the blog readers out there are white middle-class protestants) is that sometimes we become blinded to the injustices being done because so often they reflect a piece of who we are.
I have always had trouble with the following verses from Matthew 10:34-36 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’.” Why would the Prince of Peace not come to bring peace? It made no sense to me. But then I realized that Jesus is not speaking about warfare or violence, but rather disruption of that which we assume to be aligned with Him. Following Christ should call into question everything we are a part of. Do our family relationships glorify God? Do our governmental and political allegiances glorify God? Is our church glorifying God? Maybe we are called to disturb tha peace a little more when the peace looks a lot more like apathy and ultimately sin than it does God’s peace. God is a God who is consumed with justice and until we are in his business of seeking justice maybe we are not a holiness people.
I will finish this up with a few more hip-hop lyrics to let you know that this community might be onto something. “I want us to get by but we more than consumers We more than shooters, more than looters Created in this image so God live through us And even in this generation livin’ through computers Only love, love, love can reboot us” – Common Wake Up Everybody