A couple of weeks ago controversial "I'm Not Racist"* rapper Joyner Lucas put out a new single from his upcoming album 'ADHD' entitled "Devil's Work"*. The track begins with a drunk Joyner Lucas walking into a church building lined with pictures of people who died too soon, and people who Joyner believes should have died instead. The song is a crying out to God, asking Him questions about why He lets good people die and allows those that are evil to walk free. "I ain't trying to disrespect You, I just need answers." says Joyner in one of the opening verses and he's certainly not the first person to put God to the test like this.
(*language warning for both of these songs)
In the opening chapter of his writing, the prophet Habakkuk questions God on two fronts before telling God "I'll just sit here and keep doing my job until You give me an answer" (Hab. 2:1). Habakkuk asks God:
1. Why do You allow Your people to suffer harm? (Hab. 1:1-4) and
2. Why do You allow evil people to prosper and go unpunished for their wrongdoing? (Hab. 1:12-17).
To both questions God gives answers in the vein of you-wouldn't-understand-what-I-was-doing-even-if-I-told-you. We see a similar response to Job's line of questioning as well (Job 38-41). In both places, the questioners were not punished for their inquisitive nature, but they were strongly reminded of Who God is.
These texts, as well as others (like many of the Psalms), teach us that it isn't wrong to put questions to God. They teach us that it is okay, and even natural, to wrestle with big questions about God's involvement in our lives. These lessons are important to learn because, according to “Devil’s Work”, our culture is struggling with questions of evil, pain, and suffering and if the 12 million views are any indication, Joyner is not alone in his search for answers.
The culture has questions about God and as His church, we must be ready and/or willing to not only give answers but invite these kinds of questions into our assemblies. We must also be sure that we're answering questions the culture actually has, not questions we think they have. As we study these viral cultural moments these questions will reveal themselves. As for today's article, "Devil's Work" raises the following questions that we need to be prepared to answer:
Does God pick and choose who lives and dies?
What does God do about the problem of evil, pain, and suffering?
Why do good things happen to bad people and vice versa?
If God is all-powerful, why doesn't He stop evil from happening to His people?
When can we answer these questions?
Have a quarter dedicated around answering questions submitted by those in the community.
Consider using the quarterly fifth Sunday to have a question and answer session during evening worship service.
These are just a couple options that come to mind (please comment with more suggestions down below!)
The culture has questions about God, let’s create an environment in our churches that allows for the asking of those questions and looks to find answers.
Editor's Note: One of my preaching instructors said a few years ago that the preacher is a man of the Word and the culture, that is to say he understands the time that he is living in and how to make a connection with the Word to those people that make up the community around him. To that end, this is the first of what I hope will be several articles looking at cultural trends or viral moments (songs, memes, television shows, etc.) and seeing what Christians can learn from them. Feedback is greatly appreciated as are suggestions for topics to write on.