Now that you’ve gotten to know me, I think it’s time I shared something with you. It’s not exactly a confession but I listen to rap and hip hop. Not all the time, mind you, but I do listen to it, especially when working out at the YMCA or on occasions like this past Sunday afternoon on the way home from an intense School for Ministry Verbatim meeting. I often ask myself “Where are the prophets of today?” I am pretty sure that some of them are speaking through music and one form of music, like it or not, is rap. Through the lyrical tunes and rhymes of rap, I can sometimes be transported into a world that is not mine and which gives me an understanding of the stresses and worries of some of God’s children with whom I do not often interact. And now that I’ve made my quasi-confession about rap and hip hop, I’m wondering if there are others at Saint John’s who enjoy an occasional old-school jam.
As mentioned above, on my way home from that rather intense meeting this past Sunday, I heard these lyrics:
“If you are what you say you are, a superstar,
then have no fear.”
The rest of the song is about the pressure of performing on stage. Here’s a lyric about stage fright: “The spotlights here can burn holes through the stage, down to the basement, past the Indian graves where the dinosaurs laid.” Each time the performer shared in the song his fear of performing, “If you are what you say you are, then have no fear” is repeated as a refrain, so to speak.
“If you are who you say you are then have no fear” got me to thinking about Jesus and how he answered critics who challenged him on who he said he was. I came to a different conclusion from that of my Sunday rap artist but nevertheless was inspired by his line. I would say it this way: If Jesus is what He says He is, then I have no fear. Period.
I am reminded of a random conversation I had at Starbucks. I got to talking to a patron who said that he believes in Jesus, and if Jesus is who he says he is, then he’s got nothing to worry about. I asked how that belief pertains to non-believers. He said, “Aw, man, that’s a good one.” He looked down into his coffee and after a while said, “Look, if Jesus isn’t what he says he is, than I’m in trouble, but no more trouble than a non-believer.”
Right now, instead of thinking about Jesus and what he says he is, I’m wondering about you and me. What do we say we are? If Jesus were to walk into the room right now and ask, “What do you say you are?” the first words out of my mouth (I hope!) would not be, “Superstar” or “Super-Priest." What comes to mind right now is, “Sinner and redeemed” and I hope I would have the presence of mind to say that to Jesus – even after the season of Lent.
With a smile forming on the corners of his mouth, I think Jesus would reply something like this, “Then have no fear, I am here.” One Superstar in my relationship with God is plenty. I can just be David Marshall.