Urban Leadership Collective: Power Struggle
I know this piece won’t earn me ANY fans and will likely get me called an Uncle Tom, sell out, house (GASP! can’t use that word in 2012, but it rhymes with trigger) and many other misunderstood negative names will be thrown around. With that being an honest reality, allow me to share something with you.
I’m grateful that God saves men and women in hip-hop culture. And make no mistake about it, hip-hop IS a culture. Hip-hop has a certain set of beliefs, behaviors and customs that are very much a part of what makes it what it is and thank God for the men and women dedicated to reaching people shaped by the culture. Like no other culture, urban America has been radically shaped by the culture of hip-hop. With that in mind, we must remember that as Christ is saving us, there are some things we must RECEIVE from the culture, REDEEM from the culture and REJECT from the culture.
Some of those things we are good at; others….not so much. One of the things we honestly have not been good at rejecting is culture’s view of authority. If you peer into the lives of the average urban believer, you’ll likely find that they (at least verbally) reject culture’s view of sexuality, money chasing and the like. But when it comes to authority, that’s a different story.
I was raised in the era of 2Pac, Geto Boys, NWA and Ice-T making media waves for their depiction of the urban authority figure – POLICE – as crooked, evil and deserving of death. The videotaped police beating of Rodney King and the police brutality murder case of Malice Green did NOT help us view police in positive light. Those views penetrated the hearts of the urban dweller via the media and was cemented there by celebrated song. Fast forward to today and most urban dwellers don’t view police, or honestly much of ANY authority positively. Urban believers tend to share the cultures view of authority rather than scripture’s view of authority. Just think of the last time you sat and down talked all police officers, or bad mouthed your president. Sure, you’re probably not punching cops when you see them, but what is your heart towards them? Is your heart positioned to HONOR them or distrust, malign and even rebel against them? “I can’t stand the cops.” I’m guilty. And so are most of the believers in our culture.
If we’re honest, we don’t like Romans 13. And why should we? Its not like the authoritative leaders in Rome were crooked, attacked and assaulted people based on their nationality, abused their power for personal gain and were being used in many instances as agents of governmental oppression right? Oh…wait…they were? But believers were STILL commanded to honor the authorities? You mean with that STILL an ever present reality to that culture, Paul called for PRAYER for ALL that are in authority in 1 Timothy 2?
But what about injustice? Should we sit idle as injustice happens? Nope. But should we honor authority? Yes. William Wilberforce, Deitrick Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr are just a few names that come to mind of men who were impacted by scripture and fought against systematic injustices. So I’m not saying we need to roll up and deal with it when there is injustice. But we need not dishonor all God given authority because there are some who would be dishonorable.
And if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, our view of civil authority impacts our view of ALL authority. Our failure to honor authority OUTSIDE the home has emboldened our refusal to honor authority INSIDE the home. Our refusal to honor authority of land has cast a very large shadow over our view of the authority scripture.
So what does it look like for us to honor authority in our urban settings while wrestling with the very REAL tension of dishonorable parents, pastors, teachers and governmental leaders? I’m sure it varies from area to area. But one thing’s for sure, as believers – people whose eyes are locked on God’s sacrifice for us on the cross and His power on display in the resurrection – we are compelled by the Ultimate Authority to honor authority because all authority comes from Him. Even Christ who has all authority on heaven and earth honored the government of his time.
Its a power struggle. Have you yielded to God’s view or the culture’s view?