Kirk Franklin is no stranger to controversy. He has always been a trendsetter in the Gospel music industry and has again found himself under fire from the Christian community. Recently, the producer joined forces with well-known rapper Kanye West on the song Ultra Light Beam along with other secular artists. The Losing My Religion songwriter has refused to turn his back on the rap artist just because he has not met the requirements necessary to be considered worthy of collaboration. As a result, Kirk is being crucified by so-called Christians for embracing Kanye.
Many negative comments have flooded social media after a picture surfaced of the artists together. The issue that prompts concern is the negativity has not been a result of the secular community, but the ones who have an obligation to show love. These same people go to church on a regular basis and even spread the good news of Jesus to those who give them an audience, however, they slam anyone who does not live according to the blueprint they design. The hypocrisy of this community not only judges those who are outside of the faith, but they continue to crucify their own.
Far too often those who profess Christianity are so busy riding their self-righteous egos to Heaven while condemning all others to hell that they forget to live as Christ exemplified. They would rather Kirk turn his back on Kanye rather show him the mercy and grace all humanity needs. If they took the time to really read their “Holy” manuals they would see that Jesus looked so much like sinners that the religious folk of his day did not even recognize him. Judas needed to kiss him to ensure his killers snagged the right man.
Jesus said, along with his arrival came grace and truth. No longer would people be condemned because they did not meet the rigorous standards of the religious sect as in times past. They now had the privilege to be recipients of the twins of favor known as mercy and grace. This is the same unmerited favor that Christians love to testify about when they have gotten off track. Lamentations 3:22-23 reads:
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Yet, these same people have crucified Kirk for embracing Kanye. This is reminiscent of the judgment the Revolution singer received when he hit the scene in the 90s. As a catalyst for change, the songwriter has changed the scope of music categorized as gospel and bridged the gap between seasoned saints and this generation of believers. On the receiving end of wrath from the Christian community, Kirk continues to produce music which crosses cultures and the invisible boundaries which have long been antiquated.
The problem is that Christians have long carried a negative reputation for being judgmental, intolerant, self-righteous, harsh, unkind and uneducated. Meanwhile, these self-professed Christians are “hated” by those outside of the church because of the attitude they project when attempting to convey the message of Christ. Many who consider themselves to be “Christ-like” were drawn to him because of His love, kindness, patience and understanding. He managed to successfully teach truth without abandoning the main thing the world needs… love.
With the weak, Jesus was gentle; with the foolish, he operated in patience and with the cunning he proved to be wise. Christians claim to serve a loving and gracious God but have somehow failed to back off from their outward trappings of religiosity. Instead of true compassion, mercy, discernment and kindness, the Christian community would rather crucify Kirk for embracing a rapper in need of love. In response to the harsh criticism, Kirk had this to say:
To a lot of my Christian family, I’m sorry he’s not good enough, Christian enough, or running at your pace…and as I read some of your comments, neither am I. That won’t stop me from running. Pray we win.
Gospel is the supposed to be the music of emancipation and Kirk is arguably the most recognizable face of gospel music today. With the power to emancipate, why would this musical genius not reach out and embrace the likes of Kanye? Is he not good enough? Or does he taint the façade Christians have so eloquently presented to the world?
God is love and the Bible is clear when it says that the world will know those who belong to Christ by the love they have one to another. The problem is Christians do not like other Christians so it is disingenuous to think they would have extra love for the unchurched. Kirk Franklin has again been crucified by Christians, this time, for embracing who they believe is the chief of sinners known as Kanye West. Kirk has decided to abandon religion and become consumed in mercy and grace as he works diligently to bridge the gap for this generation.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
NBC: Kanye West: Ultralight Beam
Essence: Kirk Franklin Defends Decision to Work with Kanye West on New Album
Hip Hop DX: Kirk Franklin Defends Kanye West Against Angry Christians
Top Image Courtesy of Cheryl Jackson – Flickr License
Inline Image Courtesy of Instagram – Kirk Franklin
Featured Image Courtesy of Jason Persse – Flickr License