Grammy-winning rap artist Kendrick Lamar thinks Christians would benefit if churches focused more on God’s righteous judgment and less on the palatable message of hope found in the Gospel.
Explaining to hip-hop website DJ Booth, the 29-year-old Compton native described what it was like growing up in his local church.
“It appalled me that the same program was in practice. A program that I seen as a kid the few times I was in service,” he wrote. “Praise, dance. Worship. (Which is beautiful.) Pastor spewing the idea of someone’s season is approaching. The idea of hope.”
Even as a child, Lamar knew that something was being overlooked in the sermons he was hearing. As an adult, the artist shared that he has recently begun reflecting on the Christian teachings that left him “spiritually unsatisfied as a child.”
In his studies, Lamar realized the “simple truth” that while God is merciful, He is also a just and jealous God who demands “discipline and obedience.”
“Every conscious choice of sin, will be corrected through his discipline. Whether physical or mental. Direct or indirect,” he wrote. “Through your sufferings, or someone that’s close to [kin]. It will be corrected.”
In Lamar’s opinion, too many churches fail to address this “hard truth” about the Christian calling. Rather than risk offending parishioners, Christian pastors often preach watered-down messages of God’s endless love and the redemption sinners find in Christ.
“As a community, we was taught to pray for our mishaps, and he’ll forgive you,” he continued. “Yes, this is true. But he will also reprimand us as well. As a child, I can’t recall hearing this in service. Maybe leaders of the church knew it will run off churchgoers?”
Lamar concluded his message by sharing that in light of his recent discovery, he feels called “to share the joy of God, but with exclamation, more so, the FEAR OF GOD… Knowing the power in what He can build, and also what He can destroy.”
“I wanna spread this truth to my listeners,” he wrote. “It’s a journey, but it will be my key to the Kingdom and theirs as well.”
Buzzfeed profiled the star rapper’s faith back in 2015:
No rapper established in the upper echelons of popular music is more vocal about his personal religious beliefs than Lamar. Though he has never neatly fit the description of what would usually be termed “Christian hip-hop,” Lamar has often seasoned somber soliloquies of navigating the gang culture that birthed him with Christian themes of good and evil, as well as the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. Since the release of his platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated major-label debut Good Kid, m.A.A.d City in 2012, and a reported baptism while supporting West’s Yeezus tour in 2013, the centrality of Christianity to Lamar’s worldview has only grown more obvious.
In a recent Billboard interview, Lamar credited favoritism from God for his deliverance from the gravitational pull of crime in his neighborhood, and then casually declared his belief that the apocalypse is near. “We’re in the last days, man — I truly in my heart believe that,” he said. “It’s written.”