At the age of ten, I graduated from elementary school. During the ceremony, many peers spoke of their future vocation. They said things like, “When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman.” When my turn came, I too spoke of my future vocation: “I want to be a pastor.” Today, as a licensed minister and student at Princeton Theological Seminary, I still desire to bring a pastoral dimension to my work. Looking back, it surprises me that God endowed me with the spiritual vision to perceive a glimpse of my future at such a young age.

These spiritual insights notwithstanding, I also experienced another problem: my natural vision was deteriorating. I went to the eye doctor expecting to have my condition assessed and remedied. The eye doctor—my mother—informed me that I needed a pair of glasses in order to see properly. As a doctor she possessed the expertise to pick out the right pair of glasses. Just as a near-sighted person cannot wear the glasses of a far-sighted person, the converse is also true. If the lenses in the glasses are too sharply or loosely focused, the vision of the patient will be obscured. Therefore, the task of the doctor in our scenario is twofold: accurately diagnose the patient and select the proper pair of glasses.

My fellow ministers, let me suggest that all of us need to take to a visit to the doctor. We already see through a glass darkly, but we, like much of hip-hop culture, possess a case of gender glaucoma that dims our spiritual vision. In Matthew 7:3-5, the Great Physician offers this diagnosis: “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, “Let me take the speck out of your eye, while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.” Considering the sexist setting of many of our sanctuaries, could it be that black clergy have taken a hypocritical stance with respect to our oratorical neighbors—hip-hop rappers? In response to this query, let us briefly set hip-hop in historical context, and then ponder three aspects of Jesus’ diagnosis for our spiritual vision.

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