Sacred and Profane

 I’m gon’ praise him, praise him till I’m gone

I’m gon’ praise him, praise him till I’m gone

When the praises go up, the blessings come down

When the praises go up, the blessings come down

It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap

It seems like blessings keep falling in my lap

I don’t make songs for free I make ’em for freedom

Don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom

Chisel me into stone, prayer whistle me into song air

Dying laughing with Krillin saying something ’bout blonde hair

Jesus black life ain’t matter, I know I talked to his daddy

Said you the man of the house now, look out for your family

He has ordered my steps, gave me a sword with a crest

And gave Donnie a trumpet in case I get shortness of breath

Chance the Rapper, “Blessings”

Sunday night I saw Chance the Rapper in concert with 16,000 people in Cynthia Woods Mitchell pavilion.
For those of you thinking, “I didn’t think you were nearly cool enough to go to a Chance the Rapper concert,” you would ordinarily be right! But some friends of ours invited Sarah and me to come with them, and we did. Thank God we did. 

Because it was incredible. I am a nerd and I didn’t know anything about Chance the Rapper, so I did extensive research about who he is (aka I read his Wikipedia page). I listened to some of his music on Spotify. 

Then I watched a performer be incredibly spiritual and vulnerable on stage, slipping between performance and prayer, acknowledging pain in his life, and building to an altar call. 

Interspersed between the praise songs, prayers, and sharing about the death of a family member were songs like “We Don’t Do the Same Drugs No More,” clouds of pot smoke, songs full of language that some folks might find offensive, and other things you’d expect at a giant concert. And in profiles in GQ and other places, Chance doesn’t shy away from substance use. 

But in the song “Music is All We Got,” Chance the Rapper fought back tears as he substituted in “Jesus is all I got” for one of the refrains. 

But three or four times Chance slipped from performing artist to child of God deep in prayer. I know this, because I had never seen someone command a stage and cover ground like he did, moving and engaging the audience and captivating 16,000 of his closest friends. But then he would shrink himself down, close his eyes, nod his head and with both hands on the mic clearly start talking with God. Even from the lawn at a giant concert, it felt incredibly intimate.

But there was an altar call at the end of the service in his reprise of the song “Blessings” (apparently this happens at most of his concerts). “If you feel like you were brought here for a purpose tonight; if you feel like you were brought here for a reason tonight, turn to Him. Turn to Him.”

It’s 2017. I know statistics about church attendance, especially amongst younger people. And let’s be real, I was an old guy at a Chance the Rapper concert. Most of the people around me were not in a church that morning, and this concert was full of overtly Christian language, ideas, and even directives from the stage. And the people around me were incredibly receptive. 

Chance the Rapper was preaching the Gospel and people were listening. Thousands and thousands of people. 

In the church, we often feel like the world doesn’t want to hear what we have to say. But I can’t help but wonder…

Why can so many people show up to a venue on Sunday night and hear the Gospel in a profound way?

How would we respond if somebody like Chance the Rapper or his 16,000 fans showed up on Sunday morning? 

I made it through, made it through, made it through
And everything I gave to you, I gave to you, I gave to you
You got it, you got it, you got it, it’s coming, coming, coming
So are you ready?

Are you ready for your blessings?
Are you ready for your miracle?

Chance the Rapper, “Blessings (Reprise)”