Street Cred. In the hip hop community that usually means that the rapper has lived on the streets and probably spent time in jail. Street Cred is important to people in the hip hop community. Perhaps it has become important because it means that the artist knows where people are coming from and has experienced a lot of troubles in this world. In this perspective, going to jail is a positive thing, under certain circumstances. Rick Ross apparently spent a lot of time in jail. The problem for his is that he was in jail as a correctional officer. As soon as people found out that he was a correctional officer, they questioned how authentic he really was.
It’s easy to look at people who honor those who’ve gone to jail for breaking the law and wonder what’s wrong with them. “How could anyone honor a criminal?” we might ask with our noses slightly out of joint. Perhaps in the back of our mind, we wish these people could honor real heroes – like the people in the Bible. Hey, didn’t Paul urge people to follow him as he followed Christ. What if we could get people to honor Paul instead of … (I’m looking both ways to make sure no one else is reading this) … criminals? Paul, there’s a fine example for a young person to follow. Of course, some in the Corinthian Church looked down on Paul. They had listened to some wonderful public speakers talking about following Christ and they were not only eloquent, they were able to collect a lot of money to support themselves while Paul didn’t collect anything. Paul, well, he wasn’t so eloquent either. Paul, after defending himself by, in essence, boasting about his work in the Lord said this: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30)
This was Paul’s summary of what he had gone through, or, in modern terms, his street creds. In fact, if you read the verses in 2 Corinthians 11 that go before this you get a long list of the things this great guy went through. And, it’s somewhat disturbing. Imagine having a pastoral candidate talk about the number of times they’ve been flogged, or beaten with a cane. And, gulp, dare I mention Paul bragging about the number of times he’s been arrested? Maybe this shining example of Paul was tarnished. The Corinthians understood. They knew that some Roman officials were likely to imprison followers of Christ in order to shut down this blossoming religion. Little did they know that sending Paul to prison gave him an opportunity to preach the gospel. Those other preachers, proclaiming a gospel that was not of Jesus, may have been able to speak and argue eloquently, so as to sway people intellectually, but, as Paul was reminding them, he had been in the trenches suffering for preaching the gospel of Jesus.
There is a lot of preaching in the world today and many of those preachers claim to be ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they don’t have the street creds, and their gospel is tainted because it doesn’t seem like they’ve lived the life. Jesus called us to take up our cross daily, not live a life of luxury. Jesus called us to turn the other cheek when attacked, not to retaliate. Jesus sought out the down trodden and showed them the mercy of God; He didn’t cater to the religious elite. Jesus died an ignoble death of a criminal; He didn’t live in the lap of luxury. To be honest, I don’t know what street creds look like. They’re different for Christians depending on what they’ve gone through. The ultimate question is why did you do what you did? Going to jail isn’t automatic street cred. Did you do something wrong or were you sent to jail for following Christ? Beatings aren’t automatic street cred – unless they happened because you were obedient to God. Street Creds in God’s eyes stem from obedience to His call.
Lord, let me not be swayed by the things of this world. Let me be worthy of suffering for the Kingdom.