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The Come Up Show | Flickr.com

The Come Up Show | Flickr.com

When most people go to church, they do not expect to find a Grammy Award winning artist speaking to them about faith, but that is exactly what happened at Pastor Rich Wilkerson Jr.’s megachurch, VOUS Church, in Miami, Florida. The topic was “Joy Through Sacrifice,” and the guest speaker was Christian rapper Lecrae.

The artist began his talk with a prayer and the Bible verse Hebrew 12:2, “Fixing out eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Lecrae also made sure his audience had a full disclaimer when he took the stage. “A lot of you know me as an artist. I have no idea why they let me preach,” he joked, “but we’re going to figure this out.”

Lecrae shared several personal stories from his past, including how he was molested at the age of seven. He detailed how he went astray as a young man before finding faith in Jesus and setting out to have a successful career in both Christian and mainstream music. He became increasingly interested in social justice and racial issues as he grew older, but as he became more vocal, he realized that not all of his fans would agree with his opinions.

“I was about to learn a very powerful lesson,” Lecrae said. “If you live for people’s acceptance, you will die from their rejection.”

Lecrae certainly faced his share of rejection. In addition to losing social media followers and fans, he and his family received death threats. Lecrae said he felt so abused and rejected that he developed depression, nearly abandoned his faith entirely and contemplated suicide.

“I was in a really dark place, my faith was messed up,” he said. “At the end of the day, I had to realize that these are frail, fallen people, not God Himself [who are] doing all this crazy stuff.” The rapper allowed his pain to lead him back to God and His plan. “I had to embrace that trauma and let it mold me into someone new,” he said. “The shift is being willing to die to whatever we were before the pain to birth the person that we [are] becoming. That shift is when we’re too attached to who we’ve been that we’re held back [from becoming] who God wants us to be.”

Lecrae ended his sermon to the millennial-dominated church with a warning against becoming dependent on the fickle approval of social media. “We’re in the social media world hoping for likes,” he said. “If you woke up this morning and you loved yourself and God loved you, any additional like is a bonus. Like’s don’t change the world, relentlessness does.”

One can only hope that the congregation of VOUS Church takes that message to heart.

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