Creating Art in Culture
As the old adage goes, “Life imitates art.” But, as Christians, we are called to imitate Christ.
Christian rapper and recording artist Lecrae recently spoke with CBN Digital about the calling on believers to — rather than constantly speak out against culture — create culture that reflects godly principles.
Lecrae, 44, said Christians have struggled with “a little brother syndrome,” falsely believing secular culture is the bar for achievement, leaving believers fighting to reach that threshold.
“We tend to just follow suit [because] there may be some insecurity there,” he explained. “So we’ll copy culture, we’ll condemn it, or we’ll critique it, but we won’t create it. And historically, we’ve been known for creating culture — we’ve been known to be culture creators, and we serve the greatest Creator of all time, and so that should be inspiration for us to go out and do amazing things.”
Much of the art throughout history was created by God-fearing artists excellent at their craft.
“That should inspire us,” Lecrae continued. “We’ve been commissioned by God to create amazing things to reflect Him and His glory. Let’s work on it. Let’s do it well and let’s reflect how amazing He is to the world outside.”
Speaking Out on Cultural Issues
It’s easy to get caught up in pointing out the sins of secular society — which has its place — without creating and celebrating an alternative that reflects Gospel principles.
As a well-known artist with a platform reaching Christians and non-believers alike, Lecrae told CBN Digital he has had to learn to “walk in the tension” between speaking out and simply using his own music to point people toward a better way.
“We want to work in humble excellence,” he said. “At the same time, we want to be innovative and creative and we want to be distinct and transformative. And so, sometimes, we’ll lean in one of those quadrants more than the other. We’ll say, ‘Well, we’ve gotta be distinct; we’ve gotta tell and challenge the world [with] we don’t do this and we don’t do that. We gotta transform things and we’ve gotta show them the different picture this looks like,’ or, ‘We’ve gotta just be humble and excellent.'”
He continued, “I think the tension in living in all those spaces and just kinda praying and saying, ‘OK, God, is this a time to be distinct? Is this a time for humble excellence? Is this a time for innovation? What is this?’ And just relying on God to give you wisdom in those moments to do that.”
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And part of being in the public sphere — especially as a believer — is acknowledging missteps, repenting, and moving forward in healthier ways.
To make his point, Lecrae invoked the Apostle Paul, who described himself as the “chief” of sinners in 1 Timothy 1:15, but nevertheless pressed forward with the mission to which God had called him.
“You’ve got Paul saying, ‘I’m the chief of sinners, but I’m not stopping or slowing down,'” he said. “‘I’m owning where I’ve been wrong and moving forward, because there’s restoration and opportunity for growth in that process.'”
His Latest Project
Lecrae stars as the Archangel Gabriel in the holiday musical “Journey to Bethlehem” from Sony Pictures. The movie will be in theaters beginning Nov. 10.
“There was so much intentionality on making a great film — great cinematography, great story, but phenomenal music,” he said of the movie. “The music is top-tier.”
Stepping into acting, for Lecrae, was a return to his “first love,” he said.
“I had just put it on the back burner for music for so long,” he explained. “So it was really fun for me to get back into it. Of course, after not having done it for so many years, there was a lot of rust that needed to be knocked off, so it was challenging and daunting and when you’re so dialed in on the music side, you’re challenging yourself to be as dialed in on the acting side.”
After completing the musical, Lecrae said he walked away with a fresh perspective on the nativity story.
“It’s still impactful; it’s still very heart-wrenching,” he said. “You just feel the joy and the beauty of the story being told. I want to see people’s expectations exceeded. That’s what I’m excited about.”
In addition to Lecrae, “Journey to Bethlehem” stars — among others — Antonio Banderas as King Herod, Fiona Palomo as Mary, Milo Manheim as Joseph, and “For KING & COUNTRY” singer Joel Smallbone as Antipater.
You can watch the trailer for the movie below:
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