This piece is written by rapper Lucy Diamonds.

FREE GOD. Those two words create quite an ironic concept, and yet one that applies to both hip-hop and life in general. Free God…

In the hip-hop community, when a rapper gets sentenced to prison, people make shirts and signs to protest, saying “Free (insert name of convicted rap celebrity here).” It is a simple way of demanding freedom from behind bars, but also begs freedom from oppression, freedom from injustice (or in some cases, actual justice), and furthermore freedom from the bondage of authority.

Free God is a statement to crush what is commonly referred to as the “God-in-a-Box Theory.” For those unfamiliar with the term, it means simply that people put limitations on God to make the idea of how they prefer God to be, instead of trying to understand how He is. I think people who don’t know God only hear from Christians how God is kind and loving and merciful, and yet they look around themselves and see all the violence that goes on in their communities and all the injustice they fall victim to. Rappers write about what they know and there is obviously an abundance of violence in hip-hop lyrics, so what does that say about the environments these emcees come from? They see only as far as what they can do by themselves to better their situation because they feel like God doesn’t exist and if He does, He isn’t helping them. So by believing they control their lives, why would they turn to a God who seems to have forgotten about them?

The truth is, yes, God is kind and loving and merciful, but God is also vengeful and jealous. He does not tolerate rivals. He is a judge, and there is no impartiality. The fact is, until you can grasp that what happens to you is not up to you, you’ll never submit to God, and that’s actually all He’s asking of you. God is not going to make your life easy. He is going to test you and push you and ultimately break you down, to make you a better human being. God cares about your character, not your comfort. He’s going to humble you to strengthen your spirit, and if you let Him do it and endure it all because that’s what He’s forced you to endure, He really will bless you for it. And you will see peace in your life and things will go easier for you. The more you can submit to His will, the more He will lift you up.

We need to Free God because right now, we are trapped in a mind state that says this world is all there is, so we try to create our own heaven here on Earth with cars, jewelry, wealth and status, and that is not God’s design for us. Rappers show off diamond studded crosses and gem encrusted Jesus pieces, a term Biggie Smalls branded into the hip-hop culture. But their lifestyles only prove it’s a statement of fashion, not of faith. I’ve seen countless times, emcees disgrace and blaspheme God in lyrics and videos while wearing their Jesus piece around their neck. And it seems the bigger and flashier, and more diamonds in the cross, means what? More honor to God? The cross Christ carried wasn’t flashy, it was made of wood. I wish more people would realize the impact of the cross they wear and how it should symbolize the cross He carried.

People want to worship God on their own terms, not by His, and God doesn’t work that way. You see it all the time in the music business, especially at award shows where lots of artists thank God because it looks good to at least give Him some credit. Yet God deserves thanks every morning for the fact that you woke up at all. God doesn’t forget about anyone, it is we who forget about God.

Hip-hop doesn’t want God in lyrics. In fact, music in general doesn’t want God in it. If He is, it gets a different label like “Christian” or “Gospel” and gets put in different stores, and sent to different audiences. People don’t want God in schools or to speak His name at public events, so they petition to have the words “under God” removed from the pledge of allegiance. Yet even an atheist will cry out “Oh God!” if his life is in immediate danger. Why do you think that is? People need to Free God from the chains of doubt and disbelief. There are far too many people out there who are spiritually dead because they simply don’t want to admit that God exists.

I pray for the hip-hop community to open their eyes and open their minds to Free God. Understand the impact of our hip-hop culture and how it is so lost right now, but how we can use hip-hop to not only save lives, but save souls. Rappers always talk about the ghetto, murder, sex, drugs, because that’s what they see and what they are living everyday. But imagine if rap artists used their lives as a testimony to what they’ve overcome, for the glory of God. In the Bible, Paul, who wrote the majority of books that compose the New Testament, wasn’t always a follower of Christ. In fact, he led people to murder and imprison those who were followers of Christ. He was notorious for his relentless pursuit of Christians and his destruction against the Church. And yet, Paul was converted and appointed by the Lord to spread the Word. Just imagine if someone like 50 Cent or Eminem used his music as a ministry and would reach out to his fans and teach them about God. If all rappers would work for the glory of God, just think about how much peace that would bring to the hip-hop community, and how far that peace would spread, even beyond the boundary of music. If Paul could be converted and turned into one of the most influential apostles, it’s certainly possible for everyone to come to know God and work for Him too.

You better believe, and do not fool yourselves for one second that God doesn’t hear you, or watch your every move and remember every desire in your heart. But be aware you are operating under His terms, not yours. And if you don’t know what His terms are, you better study up. How many of these slain emcees are really in heaven? The bible vividly explains how you must live to get into Heaven, and emphasizes that very few people truly make it there. Even people who claim to know God and serve Him don’t always do what God says you must to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So what do you think really happens to the person who doesn’t even try?

As human beings we are a community joined together by the fact that God is our Father. Whether you believe in Him or not, He did create you. Period. You owe your life to Him. We all need to incorporate God into our lives more than ever, and we can start by using the very tools His gives us, like His gift of music. Hip-hop especially is such a powerful tool to teach with. Tupac proved that. Tupac was inspiring, but also misleading. Tupac is a prime example of an artist who gave God glory, but on his own terms. He knew to at least give God glory in some way and in a lot of his songs, he did. But he never seemed to want to let go of himself and just go all out for God. And unfortunately anything less than everything just isn’t good enough.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh and I’m sure some people will hate me for what I’m saying, but it is the truth. I want people to understand that. I am only giving you truth. In fact, I know I will be hated because Christ says plainly in scriptures that I would be persecuted for speaking up about God and for trying to spread His Word. But Christ reminds me to not worry because the world has hated Him first for initially bringing the message to it. So in Him I rest my confidence, and encourage anyone else trying to step out on faith to do the same. Keep your faith in God, not in people.

For all of you who think you’re going to heaven because you consider yourself a “good person,” here’s something to think about. Moses was a righteous servant of God, but on just one occasion he took credit for something God did and Moses was denied access to the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. This area was a paradise for the Israelites that God freed from enslavement by the Egyptians, and led through the desert for forty years. This land was their reward for keeping their faith in Him. They were no longer going to be slaves, but would be called God’s people. Yet for this one act of Moses’ pride, he never entered Canaan in the course of his lifetime. So in knowing how strict God is, how do you think God is going to deal with you? Make no mistake, God is forgiving and generous, but don’t be so naïve as to think you can take advantage of that. God will give you exactly what you deserve, and only by His mercy will you be spared. So prepare yourself, because as the scripture says, “the Lord will come at an hour when you are not expecting Him.” People die unexpectedly every day. We all like to comfort ourselves and pretend everyone goes to heaven, but God will tell you a very different, very real scenario. You better Free God from whatever limitations you’ve put on Him, and whatever exp.ectations you require. God does not work for you; you were made to be His servant. You cannot make demands with Him, you must simply ask permission.

So take God out of that box and stop trying to define God in your own way. Read His Word and find out what God wants from you. Use every gift He’s given you to glorify Him and watch His amazing work in your life. When you leave church, take God with you and let Him into the rest of your life. Let Him into your music. Let Him into your job and into your home. Put Him in charge of your finances and relationships and let Him do what He does best — take care of you! FREE GOD.

For more information and spiritual blogs, please check out my often updated ShoutLife page. There are devotionals, teachings, and guidance for anyone wanting to learn more about God or how to use your life to serve Him. Visit my ShoutLife page here: ShoutLife.com/LucyDiamonds.