You want brutal honesty? I’m struggling a bit on this issue.
On the one hand, I relish in the idea of a celebrity truly surrendering their life to Jesus and going all in as His disciple. On the other hand, I love it on my terms and with my expectations. I know how horrible this sounds - and it is. It must be hideous to God when those who already call themselves Christians tend not to celebrate the small, sometimes incomplete and often uninformed “yes’s” of sinners towards Christ. I wonder how disappointed Jesus is when we do this?
Maybe it’s because we know their celebrity-Hollywood Christianity won’t be perfect. But are our normal rural or suburban versions any better? Don’t we often fall short of our expectations of living a consistently pleasing life to God in light of Christ’s holiness? I know I do.
I’m not trying to necessarily take a side, or even to defend Kanye. I know very little about the man, what he’s stood for in his past, his music, his business dealings, or otherwise. And I haven’t listened to the new album and am not endorsing or villifying it. I have no idea if this is genuine. And when it comes down to it, his genuineness is a matter for God to decide. Not me. Only time will tell.
I’m trying to crucify my own pharisee-ism here while wrestling with many of the obvious questions that when I say out loud, can be a bit convicting. And as I think of these questions, my mind is immediately reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. (Written by the same “Paul” who many of those in the early church didn’t believe his conversion to be real at first either. see Acts 9)
What about if/when Kanye lets God and us down?
Remember the process we’re ALL in and the journey we’re ALL on:
...being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6
What if all this is really just a way to tap into the wallets of billions of Christians?
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. The former, however, preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can add to the distress of my chains. What, then, is the issue? Just this: that in every way, whether by false motives or true, Christ is preached. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice - Philippians 1:15-18
What about if/when he’s messed up in his theology?
Or what if he might even be trying to create a false version of Christianity, modeled after his own preferences and ideas?
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to test and prove what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. - Philippians 1:9-10
Let's be clear. Kanye doesn't get a free pass. I pray he's under and submitted to spiritual authority who will accurately guide and grow in his understanding of Scripture. Even more so, someone to check him up - and who he'll listen to - when he's dead wrong. (see Acts 18:26)
What I do know is that Kanye is having to live out the transition and the transformation of his faith in the public eye in a way that none of us can understand. He’s right now living louder and has more to risk than any of us. Every misstep, miscue or misspoken word is going to elicit brutal criticism from every side. For this reason I think of a familiar occasion with Jesus and the noted rich, young ruler.
And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:23-26
One thought haunts me more than anything as I consider this whole matter:
Who will prove to be more welcoming to Kanye?
(a)The Christian community into a life of faith and trust in Jesus? -or-
(b)The world community back into a life of sin and depravity?
This question makes me shudder.
People will be talking about #JesusIsKing more now as a result of Kanye. And we really must get the gravity of this last question:
What will we do with this unique opportunity?
(a) waste this precious gospel-sharing opportunity to knock Kanye down -or-
(b) lift Jesus up and tell people why Jesus really is King.