I’m Christian First

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This evening, my son Tomas said, “I was listening to your music on my way home earlier, when I thought of something. Do you think you would have ever tried to do anything with music if you hadn’t gotten saved?”

“Absolutely not,” I told him without a second thought. “I never had the ambition to attempt to do anything with whatever musical talent I might have thought I possessed. Satan had me believing that no one wanted to hear what I had to say, or write. So I never tried.”

He pondered that for a moment. Then I continued.

“When I write, or play, or sing or whatever, I do it to give God the glory. He gives me the strength to do these things because I still have to fight the enemy today. Satan still tries to convince me that no one wants to hear anything I have to say about the Lord. But today I realize that if Satan is really working that hard to stop me from doing it, then I absolutely have to do it because he must realize that God wants me to accomplish it, for His honor and glory. No for me: for Him.”

Talking to my son brought a revelation to mind. Before I label myself as anything, I’m Christian first. Before I’m a man, I’m a Christian man: follower of Jesus. He gives me strength to do things I can’t do in my own strength. I owe everything I am today, to Him. I was reminded of that while watching an interview of an awesome young Christian rapper. It wasn’t what he said in defense of his faith that raised a red flag. Rather, it was what he said in defense of his title that pinched a nerve.

Let me take a moment to state a fact. I am no one’s judge. I can’t judge because I’ve got my own baggage to deal with (that’s Ennis-vernacular by the way). But the bible does say that we are to hold one another to account. So, let me make it clear: what I’m about to say is not aimed at anyone in particular. I’m calling out what I see as an area of concern among some of my brothers. I’m praying for God to give them strength and discernment, because they are in the public eye; Satan’s playground.

Lately, there have been more than a couple of my favorite Christian rappers who have denounced the title of “Christian Rapper”. I hold no ill will toward these young brothers because they are not just talented musicians, but also knowledgeable biblically. However, that means nothing to Satan. Remember the whole King David and Bathsheba incident? Check out 2 Samuel 11:1-27. Yeah…that was the handy work of Satan. No one is exempt, and we’re all susceptible to his influences if we’re not constantly keeping our hearts stayed on the Lord. The bible says in the last days, even the elite will be deceived. We have to be careful.

One of my favorite artists did an interview for BET where he followed suit with a few others by stating, “I’m not a Christian rapper. I’m a rapper who just happens to love God.” Okay. That didn’t really catch my attention at first. Just goes to show how desensitized I really am, to the world’s influences in music. Here’s where the red flag was drawn.

“People hear the term Christian rapper and automatically think, ‘Oh, he just makes music for Christians so why bother?’ I’m just a rapper. I want all people to be drawn to my music. Once you hear my music, you’ll definitely know I’m talking about God.”

For those of you who might not know bible scripture, I’m going to give you two scriptures that hopefully will begin to help you understand why this statement, and others just like it, bother me tonight.

Matthew 10:32-33 says, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Romans 112:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

I owe everything I am today, to God. He saved me. He redeemed me. He gave me a purpose for the talents I have; talents, by the way, that He bestowed on me. The moment I choose to label myself as “Ennis Smith: Christian Author” I have just denied the Lord. It’s that simple. Folks, I’ve committed myself to writing stories, articles, lyrics and melodies glorifying the Lord. I walk the lifestyle of a follower the best way I can. So, if I choose to drop “Christian” from my life, aren’t I denying Jesus? If I choose to drop “Christian” from my lyrics, my stories or my speeches, because I don’t want to offend people or limit the number of people I think will give me an honest listen…well…I’ve just made a compromise with the devil himself! I’ve just conformed to the world’s view of how things should proceed.

You don’t have to agree with me, because you need only look up a couple of paragraphs. Those scriptures came straight out of the New Testament. That’s not my stuff, and I’m certainly not putting a spin on the bible scripture. When we deny Christ for the sake of attracting people who might not be comfortable with Him, we’re compromising our own faith in the very God who gave us a new life. You don’t have to drop “Christian” from your title, name or affiliation to reach the masses. God calls us to give Him our best and have faith in Him. He’ll take care of the rest. Here’s how that works.

When I write lyrics to my music, those songs are Christian songs: written by a Christian, glorifying the redeeming power of God.   When I write short stories for my blogs, those are Christian stories: written by a Christian, glorifying the redeeming power of God, whether they are fiction or non-fiction. I refuse to drop the “Christian” from my titles because I’m more concerned with people passing me over. If God created the world in six days, I think He can take my work and gather the attention of whomever He might choose, you understand what I’m saying?

The Apostle Paul was the model Christian. He never compromised. He always praised the Lord Jesus. He didn’t bite his tongue when his brothers sinned, as was evident when he squared off against Peter. That’s the type of Christian we’re all called to be; truly unashamed to be identified as “Christians”.

When I rap, I am a Christian rapper. When I write, I am a Christian writer. When I sing (yes I do sing from time to time), I am a Christian singer. I’m a Christian first, in whatever I choose to do because I remember what my life was like before Jesus came into it. I’ll never deny Him, because my titles aren’t important. What is important is the life I live for Him.

I wrote this not as a bash article against fallen bretheren. We all have sinned and fallen short of the grace of God. I wrote this because my brothers are under attack, and could use all the prayers they can get. Maybe I’m wrong and have misinterpreted their messages given under the spotlight. Maybe I need prayer and correction. If that’s the case, then I trust God will make it so. But maybe I’m right, and my brothers simply needed to hear it said from someone not directly vested in their lives. Someone who loves them for the mighty men of God they are, not for what they can or cannot do for me. Maybe they will take offense to my article and “unfriend”, “unfollow” and delete me from their social media pages. Or, maybe they will take the article to heart and ask God to show them His way. Whatever the outcome of this may be, I want everyone to know what my stance is.

My name is Ennis Charles Smith. I’m a Christian <insert title here>.

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