Hey, and welcome to another episode of CORE Christianity. We're delighted to be together on the broadcast where we answer your questions about the Christian faith every day. Today, we actually have a special guest that we get to talk to, Kevin K.B. Burgess, award-winning rapper, podcaster, and international speaker. And he's going to be talking to us about his book, Dangerous Jesus, Why the Only Thing More Risky than Getting Jesus Right is Getting Jesus Wrong.
And of course, this is something we talk about on the broadcast almost every day, people wanting to get Jesus right and sometimes getting Jesus wrong. And so, K.B., it's a pleasure to have you on the broadcast today. Thank you for having me, brother.
Glad to be here. I would love to just, I mean, because people hear that, Dangerous Jesus. Can you just give just a brief, I mean, what caused you to go in that direction, talking about Jesus in this way? Yeah. So for one, I think that the word dangerous can be, it's one of those words that isn't crystal clear. And I'm hoping that it would attract skeptics, people that might assume that it means something else.
And it actually means what I want it to mean. I'm taking it from the way we typically use the word dangerous in culture. You think about somebody that's on the court or on the field or in the ring, you see them as this, they're a threat to the opposition.
That guy's dangerous or that gal is dangerous. You got to be careful, meaning that they are the ones who put the opposition on their heels, that they become a threat to everything that threatens them. And what I am saying in the book is that the Jesus of scripture is a powerhouse, a force to be reckoned with. He transforms people's cultures in the eschaton, the world, the universe. This Jesus is not fragile, complacent, compliant, moldable, but he's Lord and his Lordship provides a cover for those who trust him. But he indeed is a threat to all the things that would be recognized as the kingdom of darkness. He is the ultimate danger to that which would be a danger to us. Our being unforgiven and living out the fruits of the flesh and so on and so forth. Jesus in a lot of ways is this disruptive sort of presence that brings ultimate protection and peace to his people. So in that respect, we see Jesus as not one who was played with and is an absolute threat to all the things that would threaten us. Wow. I got to just say amen to all of that.
And I want to get into some questions that we received that I think you're going to be helpful in answering. But just to get into the book a little bit, here's a quote from the book. Jesus is the most admired figure in history. He is also the most ignored, weaponized, reinterpreted, and misappropriated figure in history.
And then you asked the question, who do you think he is? So I want to just begin by asking you, why do you think that Jesus has become a figure that every group and even individual is tempted to mold into their own image? Yeah, I think for one, there is a kind of advantage to those who would want to take the ideas of Jesus and also the realities of Jesus. So we've got the ideas of Jesus when we think about the revolutionary thought to loving enemies, something like that. The way in which Jesus is a friend to the humble and the vulnerable, the broken, forgiveness of sin, removal of guilt. These are all like, for lack of better words, perks in the Christian faith.
I think people can be drawn to that on the face. Then there's also the presence of Jesus and who he is. He's the Lord and he's reigning supreme.
He will have the last word on all things. It's very easy to see that as an advantage, to have those ideas and also his presence, meaning you got the Lord of glory on your side, as an advantage to your own agenda. And particularly in a country like ours, where having proximity to Christian-esque values for most of American history has served you. It can help you get a job, help you get into office. You show yourself as a family man.
I don't know how it is where you guys are located, but I'm thinking about here in Florida. Like the politicians to be one woman men who seem to stand for the things that are oftentimes paraded as Christian values. Those things can be advantageous to your own progress in career and in this world. We also see that in churches, that churches in some ways share the title of the church of Jesus Christ. But they are essentially, many of them, we'll just say some of them to be gracious, to be charitable. Some of them are businesses. If you were to audit them, you would not be able to discern the difference between a fortune 500 institution and what we see happening and how we hire and who's on staff and what are we looking for?
What are the KPIs? All those kinds of things. We find that there is earthly, I'm going to use the word carnal, there is carnal advantage to separating the real presence, lordship of Jesus Christ as it forms who you are, to separate that project from, I like the things about him because he's popping. People are attracted to approximations of this faith. So I think that from the genesis of the church to current day, that has been a struggle for every generation. And oftentimes those who are in power with resources and influence can really take Jesus and as Dallas Willard would put it, they could want him for the perks of his blood, like a vampire, I want you for your blood, but I don't want you for your life. And I think that that conundrum creates a space where people will find themselves in that scenario that you mentioned.
I love the way that you put that. This is something we've talked about on the broadcast before that it's not just a proximity to Jesus moving around the things of Christianity. I think of that text in Luke 13, which strikes fear into a lot of people's hearts where Jesus talks about the gate being narrow, the narrow path.
And some people, they're going to come to the Lord on that day, on the day of judgment, and they're going to say, man, didn't we do all of these things? And Jesus said, I never knew you. And their response is in verse 26, this is Luke 13, we ate and drank in your presence and you taught in our streets. So there's this proximity, but there's a difference between being in proximity to Christ, right?
You ate and drank in our presence. You were teaching in our streets and actually embracing the truth of the gospel and the way of Jesus. It sounds like that's what you're touching on and I can't wait to hear more and get into the book as well.
Again, the book is called Dangerous Jesus, why the only thing more risky than getting Jesus right is getting Jesus wrong. We got a voicemail question, KB, that I think you're going to be helpful in answering. Let's listen into this question.
Hey guys, appreciate the show. I had a question for you all. I've grown up in the church my whole life and I love God and the gospel, but I'm also a lover of the music and I especially enjoy artists who are Christian but don't just worship songs and hymns and those kinds of things. Some people in the church are kind of put off by that, especially if it's rap or even like heavier rock or something like that. It seems like even if it's Christian music, some people in the church immediately associate it with the world and really can't see anything redemptive in it.
So I'm just not sure if you have any thoughts on how to demonstrate that these things can be enjoyed by people in the church. I would love to hear your thoughts. KB, I know this is something you've had to spend quite a bit of time thinking through.
What do you think? Yes. And yeah, earlier on there was a, when I first get it started, there was full movements, especially within the black church where we hail from and serve in many ways to this day. There was a big movement trying to stop Christian hip hop and burning albums, all that kind of stuff.
So let me start with the angle that I normally end with, but I'm going to start with this instead for this question. People are engaging with Christian hip hop and having their lives changed. The testimonies of people coming to Christ, people finding resources that save their marriages, get plugged into churches. One of the things that Christian hip hop probably doesn't get enough credit for, I will hear for those who come before me, Christian hip hop has been a massive advocate for the local church. Folks that are doing Christian hip hop on the highest level are church people.
They serve at their churches, go on missions with their churches. Moreover, I am here right now having this conversation, having written a book that has nothing to do with Christian hip hop. It's just about introducing people and hopefully rescuing other folks by showing them who Jesus actually is. And I'm here because when I was 16 years old, somebody gave me a Christian hip hop CD.
It was called Bloody Streets, volume one. I read the title of it and said, this is not Christian rap. The guy who gave it to me and said, yeah, it is.
You go home and listen to it, you'd be the judge. I took the project home. The guy on the front cover, he had a bandana going across his forehead, bandana going across his mouth. He had long dreadlocks like mine. He did not look like what I thought Christians looked like when I was 16 years old. And I learned a valuable lesson there because not only did that album, which had a gospel presentation at the end of it, lead me to Jesus, not only that, it taught me a series of things about how God gets down in general. And let me just drop one of those in addition to the fact that God is bearing much fruit with the genre.
And you should lead with that. Share with people the way God has rescued people for himself using this music. It's discipled people. Flame, a good friend of mine, who as soon as I got saved, he had a website that hosted his music called Discipleship from a Distance. And I got discipled. I learned the doctrines of grace. I learned church history. I was introduced to Bible college. I went to Bible college because of this genre.
But let me just make this point. God is not beholden to your cultural norms. And I think that it's very important for us to ask how much of what we deem as Christian is shaped by the culture, how we've done things, how we would like to see things done. How much of it is shaped by that? And in comparison to how much of it is actually shaped by scripture, because that's one of the questions I deal with in the book. What does a Christian look like?
What do they sound like? What's their favorite genre of music? And if those answers have anything to do with or mainly have to do with what is outside of us in preferences, then we've missed the answer to the question because it's about looking like Jesus. And we actually don't know what kind of music Jesus listened to for sure. So there's a big emphasis for me in this book and in my life, because I'm a living testimony, to boil down what does heaven care about? And oftentimes that is always going to be shaped like scripture. But even where scripture is silent, we don't want to begin to put commands on things that have nothing to do with Christoformity. And I think in a lot of ways, what we will see is that the earth is the Lord's, and there are all kinds of things in the world that God wants to use to shape you for his kingdom. And I think hip hop is no difference. Yeah.
Man, I love that. And that story that you share about how the Lord used hip hop in your own life to bring you to faith. You talk about that at the beginning of your book. I got to read through that online. The book is just out.
You guys got to get a hold of this. You can learn more about KB's story and just thinking about such an important thing, how we can use a lot of times our own cultural preferences as barriers, walls that we put up that keep others from Jesus. I mean, from the very beginning, I think about the conflict with the Gentile inclusion, Gentiles coming into the church and you have Jewish believers who are saying, well, they got to fit into our Jewish mold, going back to circumcision and so on and so forth, and how big of a deal that was then. I mean, there are entire books of the New Testament, like the book of Galatians, that are written to address this issue. How we can add our own preferences, our own cultural preferences even, to the gospel and then make that a barrier of entry for others.
And if it was a thing then, well, certainly it's going to be a thing today. And so we got to examine our own hearts in thinking about, okay, what are the walls that we put up that are keeping the gospel from advancing, keeping people from Christ because of our own preferences, sometimes even our own sinful preferences. We got to be careful with that.
Yes, absolutely. That's well said, Pastor, well said. I'm even thinking about a story of a gentleman who came from off of the streets and stumbled into a church looking for God. And he had a hat on. And the gentleman is sitting in the back looking for God. And the leadership at that church felt so disrespected that he'd wear a hat in the sanctuary. Before they asked his name, his story, it was clear that they had an agenda. They were looking for compliance and cultural compliance at that because it'd be hard pressed to make a solid biblical argument on why having a hat on in a sanctuary is an actual affront to God.
It's a blocker. God won't meet with you until you take off that Yankees cap. But it was more cultural than anything. And in doing in that sort of, I'm looking for compliance in the face of a man looking for God, it became a repellent and did not help the witness. In fact, drove the man out the church. And we don't want that.
We don't want that at all. No, God help us in our churches to be, I mean, I think of James, you know, when James talks about showing preference or partiality and how so often, I mean, that's part of the problem is us looking at those externals and building these barriers that ultimately lead to heartbreaking stories like the one that you just shared. And so God help us to be mindful of that.
And man, such a delight to have you right now on the broadcast, brother. We got an email question from Casey. I want to read this to you. He says, I am a Christian singer, songwriter, and I often struggle with pursuing this as a career. I've always wanted to do this professionally, but sometimes I wonder if it's even possible to achieve any level of success without compromising my beliefs.
On top of that, how can someone become famous and still remain humble? Sometimes it just doesn't seem realistic. And I wonder if I should stop chasing this dream. Hmm.
Good question. So let me, let me start with the fame question. I want to be crystal clear that like money or power, fame, which is often infused with both of those, is dangerous. I have, it is rare for me, rare for me, I'm just being honest, to meet the man or woman who grew more godly with their increase of fame. I think that that does happen. I would hope by God's grace that that will be true of my, you know, of my life.
And, but I will say the challenges are many because, you know, as Charles Spurgeon said that a Christian is in far, is far less danger when he's, when he or she is persecuted than when they are praised. Because it's not, it's, it's just a, it's the condition, the human condition that makes these things not bad, but you ought to approach them carefully. As Tim Keller says that fame is like perfume. Like it's okay to have it on you, but don't drink it. And what I'm saying is sometimes fame smells so good. Like this fragrance smells so, I don't know if y'all mess with Scentsy or not, but you know, like this, this smells like apple pie. And if you, and you can cross the line and say, let me just take a sip of this and, but it's not apple pie.
It's actually toxic if you drink this stuff. And, and I think fame, so I would encourage you, dear person, I don't know if it's a brother or sister, but I would encourage you to have fame as a by-product of faithfully pursuing what you believe God is calling you to do. And let me just make this the meaning, don't have it as the goal of your existence. If it comes along with what you do, you accept it and you honor it like everything else in your life. Whatever comes our way as a believer, I'm finding a way to then appropriate that for the kingdom, to honor God through wherever I am. Do not have fame just like tons of money or whatever it may be as at the center of what it is you're trying to do.
Let it be a almost say necessary, but not first primary desire in the pursuit of what you're doing and answer your first question. I would encourage you simply, yes, you can keep your values and have a career making music. I have done that.
I know many brothers and sisters who have done the same thing. I'm signed to a Christian division of a mainstream label. And that's what contracts are for, to ensure that at no point is my religious convictions going to be a problem for what it is that I am contracted to do. In some respects, your values, you don't have to choose your values or pursuing a music career in any, that doesn't have to be the case. But I'll say to you very succinctly because I know we're out of time, have the call of God as your North star. That I am first before I am called anywhere else, I am called to this kingdom work to be a light among the nations for the Lord that I love.
That is what I want to do no matter what sphere I may be in. Now, if God is also linking that to my giftedness in music, that I'm constantly trying to simply merge those realities, especially if you're doing Christian music, I'm merging the ultimate call that God has on my life to be in the pursuit of the kingdom work in this world. And I'm just writing about it and I'm singing about it. I'm trying to help people while I'm doing that. If you are occupied with that, you want to give yourself some time to see if God might turn that into a career. That means that you can earn money off of it.
Because if you can't do that, cats that are about to lose their families because they got a dollar and a dream. So at some point, this might need to just stay your service to your church, which is beautiful and something you maybe love to do like in your free time. But if it were to become a career, what I have done is I've given myself to obsessing with those kinds of things, going deep in, trying to bring down this ultimate, my raison d'etre, my kingdom raison d'etre into my giftedness, which is in music.
And I want to get better at that and be encouraged by helping people. If I'm consumed with that, all the other distracting stuff from awards and comparisons and the jealousy and the ambition and all that stuff, it kind of falls to the side. It still struggles. There's always going to be struggles. But it doesn't become that which consumes what I... It doesn't sit as the center of my struggle. Because what I'm mostly focused on is going deep. I'll let God handle the width and I'll be as big as he wants me to be.
I never have to worry that maybe I could have been bigger if I would have done X, Y, and Z. It doesn't cross my mind. I know I am just as popular as I need to be for my spiritual health. And as long as I can continue to do, merge this ultimate call with my particular call in making music and I obsess on doing that well and helping people, everything else just falls in place.
You know, one of the questions I think it's important to ask ourselves is, who or what am I trying to platform? And from the moment you got on the broadcast today, you basically preached a short sermon at the outset. I just wanted to say preach. Amen. You were talking about Jesus as, I mean, in line with the book, Dangerous Jesus as the one who confronts the wickedness in the world.
It is a safe haven for his people. And so I just appreciate KB, your heart to platform the true Jesus. That's what we want to do on this broadcast. I want to encourage all of our listeners to get ahold of this book again. It just came out, Dangerous Jesus. Brothers and sisters again, get ahold of this book and thank you for joining us for another edition of Core Christianity. May the Lord bless you. Thanks for listening to Core Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-The-Core. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program and be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
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