Kanye West has been at the center of pop culture discussions for the last few weeks after he released his latest album, Jesus Is King. It’s not every day that a rapper who is known for singles like “I am a God” and lyrics like “I love you like Kanye loves Kanye” declares that he works for God now and then releases a gospel album. As a result, people have been talking. Especially Christians.
If you don’t know who Kanye is, imagine if Frank Sinatra, The Beatles or Michael Jackson got saved at the height of their career and then released a gospel album. It’s a big deal. But one of the questions people have been debating is whether Kanye is truly a follower of Jesus or if this is an elaborate PR stunt.
In light of this debate, I want to lay out three things Christians should consider when it comes to Kanye West and his newfound faith.
The gospel says who we were is not who we are.
Scripture is clear that our God has the power to save whoever He wants. No one is outside the reach of God. No one is too far gone. Why? Because you simply cannot out–sin the cross of Jesus Christ. It’s a truth that we relish as followers of Jesus, but a truth we’re slow to apply to those who have a history of rejecting the Lord.
It’s easy to list off lyrics of old Kanye songs and point to who he has been in the past as evidence that he couldn’t possibly be saved. But why would his past disqualify his transformation? When a college student tells me they’ve placed their faith in Jesus, I don’t say, “But what about spring break freshman year?” No, I celebrate with them because I believe the Word of God when Paul writes: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Death to life is (and should be) jarring. Sometimes it takes us a second to absorb the newness of this new creation. But if Kanye says he is a new creation, let’s celebrate that the old has passed away and the new has come.
Don’t be skeptical when God answers prayer.
We have a tendency to pray for big things and then experience a level of shock when God actually does what we ask Him to do.
Prime example: In Acts 12, we see God miraculously deliver Peter from prison in the middle of the night. Peter then goes to a house where a bunch of Jesus followers are praying, presumably for his release. When the servant girl tells the people that Peter is standing outside, they immediately tell her she’s out of her mind. Why? Because we ask God for impossible things, but we don’t actually believe He’ll do it.
For us, we pray for the salvation of those who are far from the Lord all the time. We long for friends and family who are far from the Lord to know Jesus. We pray for those who are enslaved to addictions or destructive behavior to experience the freedom that comes in knowing Jesus. Yet when Kanye West releases lyrics that say, “Even if I take this walk alone/I bow down to the King upon the throne/My life is His, I’m no longer my own,” we wonder if it’s a PR stunt.
Our God answers prayer. And I would imagine there have been a lot of people praying for Kanye for a while. Why would we be skeptical when God answers prayer?
Pastor John Durham said it best in a recent Facebook post:
“I would rather be a fool for believing a man’s publicity stunt than be a fool for disbelieving God’s ability to save.” – Pastor John Durham
Pray for endurance and discipleship.
Christians tend to pounce on recently converted celebrities like a BOGO deal on Black Friday. And in terms of Christian celebrities, Kanye is a “get.” No offense to Tim Tebow and Kirk Cameron, but Kanye is a big deal.
I personally can’t imagine the pressure Kanye must feel from Christians who now expect him to be the cultural ambassador for the Christian faith. I also can’t imagine the pressure he must feel as he watches tweets and articles roll in just waiting for him to fail. I can’t imagine the pressure of knowing there is a large chunk of the culture waiting to see cracks in the foundation so they can write off his transformation as a phase.
We should pray for godly people who can come alongside Kanye to disciple him and help him endure. Remaining faithful to Jesus is incredibly difficult when your life isn’t under a microscope. I can’t imagine the pressure you must feel when your life is under a microscope.
May we be people who are quick to celebrate life change, quick to praise God for His ability to save, and quick to pray for discipleship and endurance just as we would for anyone in our body who has recently placed their faith in Jesus.
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