If you haven’t listened to Kanye West’s new album “Jesus is King” I highly recommend it.
Just this morning I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw images of Kanye leading a worship service this weekend in a prison for inmates, many who were on their knees with their eyes closed or standing with their hands raised.
You could see the evident emotion in some of their faces – and Kanye stood among them and led them in worship.
Let me repeat that again for all our skeptics – yes Kanye West, the man who hosted pornography award shows, whose lyrics in past albums would initiate lectures from my parents about how I shouldn’t listen to inappropriate songs – this very same Kanye stood with prisoners and led them in worship to God.
When Kanye dropped “Jesus is King” close to two weeks ago the world was shocked. Did Kanye really experience a true conversion? Did Kanye now truly believe in God in a way that would mark his life forever? Kanye seemed quick to silence those who were quick to judge his new up and close conversion – on Jimmy Kimmel the night he dropped “Jesus is King” Kimmel asks if Kanye is now a Christian Artist and Kanye’s answer is striking:
“I just a Christian EVERYTHING”.
Society is fascinated with celebrity conversions. From Justin Bieber leading worship, to Selena Gomez writing worship music for previous albums of hers, to Kim Kardashian baptizing her children in the Armenian Church, the world watches with fascination as those who seemed furthest from the faith slowly come to terms with it in their own way. Notice that this fascination though can arguably stem from a “holier than thou” attitude, as some Christians are scrupulous and like to play God and decide who is worthy of coming to the light of Christ. I often find myself doubting newfound conversions in celebrities, but Kanye’s encounter is a reminder to myself, and all of us that God can work through anyone regardless of our own bias of the person.
Kanye’s “coming to Christ” moment though is not far from those who have walked the faith before. We have seen in the lives of the very Saints, an instant of conversion that marks their lives forever. To simply say that Kanye’s conversion is a media stunt is to attempt to limit the remarkable and life-changing power of God’s call in someone’s life.
Who are we to judge Kanye’s conversion? He himself brings this to light in his album in the song Hands On stating:
“Said I’m finna do a gospel album – What have you been hearin’ from the Christians? – They’ll be the first one to judge me – Make you feel alone in the dark and you’ll never see the light”.
Now let me just set the record straight here – I believe that as Christians we are called to keep each other accountable so we can live a life that directs us and others to God. I think with Kanye’s vocal conversion (through interviews, and lyrics) we are called to bring his conversion into prayer, to help him to truly live the life Christ has called him too. He has a platform that Christ can use as a medium to bring others into the light and hopefully this encounter with Christ that he has had will make him aware of the gift God has given him and the responsibility to share the love that comes with it. Let us not forget the lyrics above – are we called as Christians to judge who is worthy of the love of Christ? Is that really our job? If so, then he or she who is without sin should cast the first stone. Kanye reminds us in “Jesus is King” our faith calls everyone to the table – to turn from our sin and turn towards the light.
As Kanye says “Please, pray for me”.