The way you start the story changes everything.

Kendrick Lamar and Chance are two of the top rappers in the game, and both have a way to reflect their perspectives on contemporary religion.

Miguelito wrote an astute piece over at DJ Booth discussing the juxtaposition. It’s worth the read. Kendrick actually responds later here.

In his response, he expands on the way he views hit faith. If Chance offers a more ‘positive’, blessings from above approach, Lamar provides the opposite, a more pragmatic (and traditional) approach to God.

Some prefer this approach. Religious institutions fear the constant pressure of popular culture to their belief systems. Relevant Magazine interpreted his response as an admonishment to the ‘watering down’ of religion. To them, and others, a critical attribute of God is the guarantee of judgment and consequences.

But that view may be too narrow.

Although Lamar laments (and obviously we can’t read too much into a few paragraphs),

After being heavily in my studies these past few years, I’ve finally figured out why I left those services feeling spiritually unsatisfied as a child. I discovered more truth. But simple truth. Our God is a loving God. Yes. He’s a merciful God. Yes. But he’s even more so a God of DISCIPLE. OBEDIENCE. A JEALOUS God. And for every conscious choice of sin, will be corrected through his discipline.

and,

I feel it’s my calling to share the joy of God, but with exclamation, more so, the FEAR OF GOD

I can echo where Kendrick is coming from, but I want to land with Chance in terms of Gospel message, and not because Chance is more positive. I believe your actions matter and there are consequences. But I believe most of those consequences (maybe all?) are your own doing, not God’s.

We know that obedience comes out of LOVE, and not fear. Love casts OUT fear, not the other way around. Also, God may be a jealous God, jealous to see you live out your full potential, but a God who is constantly correcting your sins through consequence? There are issues with this stance because the consequence of sin (everything that disconnects us from living out the fullness of our humanity) has already be solved through the work Jesus does at Easter.

Which brings us back to the top. The way you start the story matters. In our narrative, you can start with the notion of your Original badness (sin), or you begin with your Original Goodness. And everything changes from there.

Photo Cred: http://jzenno.tumblr.com/