Let's Be Real

The dawning of our new millenium is just days away and we, as an industry, stand at an amazing crossroads. This last decade has brought Gospel music unparalleled notoriety and catapulted many of our artists into areas of superstardom. We've seen tremendous interest from secular and Gospel arenas alike. No matter where you look, this industry has taken this country, and world by storm. But in the midst of this unbeliveable growth, have we as an individuals, in an ever changing environment, forgotten our purpose and our goals? Have we strayed from our personal commitments? Have we become lost in the shuffle and sacrificed our integrity for a dollar? Let's examine this.

From the days where Gospel was sung on cottonfields until current-day stadiums, the message of the good news of Jesus Christ has remained constant. However, throughout the years, there has always been an undercurrent of deceit and questionable lifestyles by some industry participants which has threatened to compromise ministries and messages. Recently, there have been reports of Gospel artists involved in situations which have raised several eyebrows and have caused their sincerity to be questioned. Are Gospel artists supposed to be role models for others? Are we as an industry called to a higher level of living than the world? Are we called to a different level of living than even our brothers and sisters in the faith?

It would be unrealistic to say that artists, managers, promoters, and industry executives aren't prone to the same temptations that present themselves to everyone else. Everyone has days filled with mistake and human error that may make us less than honorable. Yes, we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That goes without saying. However, we're talking about lifestyle issues. While we're all prone to a bad day here or there, we as Christians are called to a lifestyle change. As Christians, we're called to live a life as unto the Lord. Romans 12:1 clearly states, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." That one Scripture covers a wealth of territory and encompasses our charge unto God. There is old hymn that says, "A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify." Sometimes I wonder, if in the midst of record label changes and terribly phat tracks, that we've forgotten our charge. Many of our lifestyles are not truly exhibiting that which is holy and acceptable. We may be living a life that's acceptable unto our record companies, but is it really pleasing unto God?

How many of us actively attend church and are under fruitful and productive leadership? Are we tithing and giving offerings? Are we really following God's direction for our lives or are we doing what we think is going to be trendy? If you continue to read in Romans 12, verse 2 challenges us by saying, "And be not conformed to this world: but be And be not conformed 
to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your 
mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, 
and perfect, will of Godye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Some of us have been so molded and shaped by the world until we don't know how to get in contact with God, let alone find out what is His will for our lives.

This is not designed to be an indictment against our industry but rather, to serve as a wake up call. Too many of us are singing the Word and not living it. Then others of us are trying to be a part of this industry without being a part of God's Kingdom. Now some might say that you don't have to be saved to perform Gospel music. Maybe you don't. But to be effective within the Kingdom, you need an on-going, cultivated, and active personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We've sometimes been trying to run our industry like the secular arena runs the music industry. Granted, there are some business practices that may be beneficial to both spheres, but the last time I checked, God's way is the best way. It's time for us to really begin emphasizing holy living and sin-free lifestyles. Godís asking that we point our hearts and lives completely over to Him. As we as an industry head in His direction, we'll see some radical changes in our personal and professional lives. Many of us are waiting for a big break. Some of us think that it's going to be that one hit song, great article, or artist signing that is going to allow us to excel. We really need to understand that promotion doesn't come from the east or west, but it comes from God. We can't expect God to really stamp His approval on us if we're not trying to please Him.

It's time for the focus of our lives to change. Many of us are focused on how we're going to excel in 2000 and how we're going to drop the bomb album. Our desires are really on the temporal things of this world. Many of us know more about Tommy, Fubu, and Versace than we do about Jesus, His promises, and His Spirit. It's time that we put away these temporal diversions and focus on the fact that Jesus is really coming back. While many of us are accustomed to the proverbial "hook-up", there won't be a "hook-up" that can get you into the Kingdom of Heaven. It doesn't matter how cool we think we are or how tight our beats are, if you haven't accomplished the work that God has assigned to you, you'll be denied at Heaven's gates.

It's time to be real. If we as an industry are going to represent Christ, let's do just that. Let's stop straddling the fence with our half-hearted lifestyles. Let's live that devoted live for Christ. Only then will our lives show, and the industry and the world come to truly know the goodness and reality of a relationship with our Saviour.

ó editorial opinion by Gerard Bonner ó

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