The heart of every matter is a matter of the heart. This is one of the deepest lessons I am learning as I make my journey of faith through life. It is written, “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart” (1 Sam 16:7) This fact poses a problem because we as people only see the outward and don’t have the ability to see as deeply or as far as God sees.
Yes I know that “a tree is known by its fruit”, yes I know that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” Yes I know that you can “tell what a man is by his actions” but Jesus really did switch it up when he taught folks in Matthew 5 that the kind of thing God is after is more than just right action and right speech.
We must learn to act right and speak right as people who are walking by faith in God but God is after something deeper, God wants my heart and motives to be right. I found out as one who wants to serve God that your heart can become more attached to work of the Master than the Master of the work. You can also do right things with wrong or mixed motives. Jesus said to beware of doing righteous deeds like praying, fasting and giving to impress people (See Matthew 6:1-5)
The thing is I am involved in music which involves you creating songs that you hope will appeal to and touch people. Let’s be real, you hope people will like what you do and if you are selling it, you hope people will like it enough to buy it and rate it as “classic” or “excellent” or something which is of top quality. I mean the music industry has standards right? Not only that, if you are an artist who is a Christian or one who considers themselves a gospel artist that creates music of an “Urban variety” e.g rap, garage etc, the stakes are raised even higher because you already have certain Christians who associate the music you do with people who are “worldly” because the form of music you do is more or less the same in form with them (though different in content and intent, Well at least it is supposed to be! LOL!)
What I found myself doing and what I noticed is that Christian artists of this kind are forced to have to prove that they are all for Christ and God hence we have terms like “holy hip hop” and “gospel funky” which personally I don’t like or subscribe to although I do understand why people make up these titles which is to show people that they are “different” and “set apart” These labels are also for “marketing purposes” Such titles are necessary to classify music in another category so that people don’t get it confused. (Well this is what I have been told and I grudgingly accept it for “business” reasons to an extent)
I once pointed out to a friend one day that “Holy Hip Hop” at least the kind with more Theological leanings contains more scriptural content than most of the gospel songs that are sang e.g the songs of people like Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond and Donnie McClurkin etc and this is so because rapping in church was rejected and therefore the Christian rappers felt they had to prove that they are different from their “worldly” counterparts to be accepted by the gospel music community. People who sing gospel music don’t have to prove themselves as much. As long as they can hit high notes, use well known gospel chords and throw in a few halleluyahs they get a pass and it’s all good.
What happens is that ever so slightly it affects your creativity and you might become less honest in your music. You start writing in a way that your content is seen by others as Christcentric and gospel oriented and less about who you are as a human who is flawed and is still growing on a journey of faith. There’s nothing wrong with our content being influenced by our faith or explicitly containing the gospel, the problem is the motive. Is it to be “seen by men” as “righteous” and “holy” Is it to be accepted by legalistic folks who have already judged what you do because they see the artform you participate in as “worldly”? Or is it truly to glorify God? This is why there has been a split between those who see themselves as gospel artists and those (like me) who see themselves as artists who are Christians.
What we also face in the UK as artists who create music that originated in the US as well is the unfair comparisons. Gospel music, rap music, r'n'b etc all originated in America and they have been doing it longer than us, also they have been more successful in making music a commodity that is bought. Apart from that America is larger than the UK in size and market which means that those at the top of the food chain will move more units but for us as Christians is it really about how many records you’ve sold? I personally can’t answer that question because I would love to sell loads of albums as well as spread the gospel and I’m still trying to find the balance in my mind as an artist who is a Christian. I don’t feel every song I make has to be for evangelical purposes or directly about God. I think the main thing is as long as I don’t trade in my artistic integrity and sell out, I’m good. I pray that God has my heart in the right place because it’s so easy to have your motives and intentions all wrong and NOT EVEN KNOW IT!
It was from this heart and point of view that I wrote the following song “Love letter” much love! Peace
free download "Love Letter" here: http://bln.kr/2F8~/