By Chanta Nichole
Well, the fact that I'm posing this question many of you already know the answer I'm going to give, but for those of you who might not, the answer is a resounding NO.
I do not believe that when Gospel artist tap into a familiar, rhythmic sound to be the bass line of their next serenade to The Father, that they have somehow betrayed the Good News (the Gospel of Jesus The Christ). For those of us who are so in love with traditional Gospel music, which by the way I do adore as well, those same songs were once referred to as the devil's music. As a matter of fact Thomas Dorsey who is known as the Father of Gospel music, was initially run out of the church for writing sacred lyrics and having them song over blues music. The point I'm making is every time something new and different is introduced into the life of the church it should not be treated with disdain, and the artist looked at as Judases to the faith. Having said that, I do believe there is a way in which we can all discern if something is of God or not, and that is to simply ask the Holy Spirit to show us.
1John 4:1-3 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
This says it all right here. When we listen to the lyrics of the song, what is it talking about. Are they sharing a counter message to the message of The Kingdom or is it in line with the message of The Kingdom? The fact that the artist are fashion conscious and have a hip urbanized look, does that make them anymore or any less in terms of who they are in the eyes of God? Again, for those of you who don't know me, my answer is a resounding NO. I play contemporary Gospel, Gospel Hip Hop, Gospel Neo-Soul, etc, on my show. I seek out Gospel music that I describe as picking up where secular R&B left off. Those of us who grew up in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, can remember loving music. The remixes, the originals, the hardcore beats, the melodic grooves, and the lyrics that were good, clean, and yes fun. Even the stuff that was a risqué, was cloaked as to not be so blatant. However, along came the new millennial and that same music we loved so much was now poisoning us. It's lyrical vulgarity began to sicken those of us who were living a life of purpose and promise. Our mental state, our emotional stability, and our spiritual growth, was being threatened, simply because we were attracted to a song with an infectious tune. Well, praise be to God, we now have Contemporary Gospel. This has given us the sound we love, infused with the lyrics that edify. For persons like myself who appreciate a smooth grove, and a hard beat while driving, or cleaning, or any other thing I might be doing, I can fully enjoy the music while being blessed by the lyrics.
Don't get me wrong, I understand that there are those in the Gospel music arena, just like in any other part of the church that really don't care anything about The Kingdom of God or the people of God, and they are doing nothing more than pimping their gift of music to get what they want.
This is something that we can not regulate. Scripture gives us an example through one of Christ's parables, of how those with ill intentions can grow in the same field with those who have good ones: Matthew 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn. At the right time God will have those who know the difference between what's good and what's not, separate the two. Those who profess the Gospel yet really want to be of the world, have a heart issue. That issue is not with us, nor is it for us to work out, that is between them and God. The first part of 1Corinthians 2:11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him. That means we don't know a person's motivation for doing what they do. Only God truly knows what's in the heart of us all.
Let me also say to those who argue that this Contemporary form of Gospel music is a way to draw in the secular people, I don't agree with that.
While I believe God can and will use whatever He wants, to draw people in, what I've found is that the music does more edifying than evangelizing. It is still the preached word, the open dialogue, and the modeled lifestyle, that draws people into the life of the church. If that drawing is based solely the style of music we sing, then I might argue, their only coming for a show. In my estimate it is still superficial preaching, the lack of dialogue, and the poorly modeled lifestyle that is truly the enemy of the church. Once we who profess Christ, stop leaning on our frailties as an excuse for our lack of self control, and we stop the hypocrisy of living lies in front of the congregants while preaching the truth, and we begin to protect the weaker more vulnerable members of our community, we will realize it's not the musical style that draws them in, it's The Spirit of The Lord....