Tupac Shakur died a little more than 20 years ago on September 13, 2016 at the young age of 25.
Killed by a bullet from a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, his influence today is nearly as great as it was when he died. The son of two former Black Panthers, Tupac is a rags-to-riches story. Even after his death, he continues to sell music and influence rappers and musicians. Having sold more than 75 million albums worldwide, Tupac was honored this week being nominated by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
I haven’t listened to Tupac’s music. I have read the lyrics to several of his hit songs. Much of what I have read mostly disgusts me. In my opinion, a musician who raps “…spark a revolution, f*** the constitution … See it’s cool to shoot a n**** but they hate it when we pop the cops…” doesn’t deserve such an acknowledgment in rock’s history books. Obviously, others disagree.
Nonetheless, what does speak to me about the story of Tupac Shakur is the impact his life has had, and continues to have. I don’t agree with his message, at all. But, I do want to learn from the impact his life has had upon others and culture.
Most people will never be given such a platform as Tupac was. However, each of us does have our very own personal stage around which those within our circle of influence gather as spectators. Through our individual daily “life performances,” we each have countless moments in the spotlight to do something, say something, and share something that can impact our world for the better. The point isn’t how many people gather to hear the message. Instead, what message will they hear?
I love the words of Catherine of Siena, a philosopher and theologian living in the 1300’s who said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
When Christ lived on earth, He conveyed a message that demanded the attention of others. Many people believed in Him. Many people didn’t believe in Him. But, His message was so impactful that 2,000+ years later people are still talking about Him.
As a Christian, I desire to shape people and culture in a way that points them to Christ. In doing so, I’m not so naïve to believe that everyone with whom I come in contact will accept what I believe to be true about Christ. However, I do desire to live a life that so celebrates Christ that even those who don’t agree with my message, as I don’t with Tupac’s, still have the opportunity to hear my message by watching how I live my life.
Psalm 96:2b-3 says to “…proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
Fan or not, Tupac garnered the attention of many people who are still listening to him two decades after his death. What if every Christian strived to have a similar influence by exemplifying the character of Jesus Christ in how we live, the choices we make, the way we talk, and in how we treat others?
Imagine the impact.