Rapper and Pastor Tripp Lee says Christians in America must stop trying to fit in by supporting causes that are trending at the time in a show superficial unity, and instead support a long-lasting commitment to God's priorities.
On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention co-hosted a conference with The Gospel Coalition, "MLK50: Gospel Reflections from the Mountaintop," in Memphis, Tennessee, where Lee was one of the speakers.
The event was meant to provide an opportunity for Christians, black and white, to reflect on the state of racial unity in the Church and society.
Lee began his address by sharing his testimony. He explained that he was always a rap artist but when he came to Jesus he decided to use his gifts for the Kingdom. Although only black audiences embraced him at first, eventually Christian contemporary tours asked him to join them on the road also, which exposed white crowds to his music.
"It would be really dangerous for us to assume that Christian hip-hop's popularity equals racial unity. There's a difference between being excited about a trend and being excited about what God is already excited about," he said.
Lee explained that he wanted to talk about this topic because it's not just Christian hip-hop that's "in style" these days, as he's noticed that justice appears to be a fad now also.
"Some of us care about this — justice and unity — just because it's in style right now," he continued.
Lee compared this way of thinking to clothing stores that only sell clothes they think are in style. He labeled it "trendy compassion" and said he's noticed that along with racial injustice other trendy topics include sex trafficking.
"It makes the Church look like insecure teenagers who are trying to fit in instead of fearless followers of God, which is not what we've been called to!" he declared. "Just like fast fashion, trendy compassion is cheap and will fall apart. It will not last."
The Texas native urged believers who think like that to quit while they're ahead, saying that black people don't want that kind of sympathy. Lee said he knows art can help bring people together but emphasized that it won't be the solution.
"Black art is not some kind of a magic wand, there still has to be a humble heart attached that's listening to it. And I know it's not a wand because plenty of fans love to turn on us as soon as they realize we are actual black people, with black concerns in our black lives," he said.
"What we need is not a superficial unity that was just created by music form, or superficial commitment to justice. We don't need trendy compassion, we need a long-lasting commitment to God's priorities. We should care about this because God does."
The 30-year-old minister also preached on the character of Jesus and went on to say that believers should just jump on ship and treat racial inequality like a sermon series. He encouraged all in attendance to allow their concerns to turn into action.
He concluded his exhortation by pointing to the good Samaritan in the Bible, a sermon which Martin Luther King Jr. also preached often. Lee explained that, as described in the book of Luke, the religious leaders were more concerned about what would happen to them if they helped the man on the road instead of thinking of what would happen to them.
"Would you be willing to lose comfort for this? Will you be willing to lose church members for this? Will you be willing to lose privilege?" he asked.
To view the entire conference, watch here.