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My Thoughts on Kanye West Being Christian

By Monday, November 04, 2019

If you’ve been keeping up with the Kardashians or following the pop culture news, you probably have heard about Kanye West’s recent confirmation as a converted Christian. Yes, Kanye West. THE Kanye West, a celebrity who has caused many controversies throughout his career and is often criticized for his misogynistic lyrics and provocative remarks. As unpredictable as he has always been, he has been leading pop-up churches and mega worship sessions, called “Sunday Service” across the US, and recently released an album entitled Jesus is King.

Following his declaration, he has since faced both backlash and support from the public, Christians, and the Christian hip hop community. My thoughts about his recent conversion are mixed. How do we respond to this? Is he a true Christian? Did he really experience a spiritual transformation despite the way he was living his life? Is this all just a publicity stunt or an image-correcting scheme?

My Initial Response
I would be lying if I said I was optimistic when I first read the news about him being born-again. My very first impression was of skepticism and judgment, which I am not proud of. I remember thinking “Yeah, right!”, which was sad as how much it said about me: disbelief in how God CAN work in anyone’s life regardless of how “unworthy” they might seem to us.

I was (and still am) struggling to make sense of the possible goodness (or maybe even greatness!) and potential harm that could come out of this transformation. I can see how someone as famous as Kanye can positively shape our culture if his testimony rings true. But if not, I worry about people misunderstanding Christianity, thinking that you can be a Christian while living a life displeasing to God (more of this excellently elaborated by The Gospel Coalition). This has always been my initial thought towards celebrities with a huge platform, like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Selena Gomez; all of whom have previously declared their faith in Jesus.

How My Thoughts Shifted
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit prompted me to reflect on my own flaws and judgmental attitude because I was judging them like I was better than them. I was reminded that there are no big and little sins in God’s eyes. Any kind of iniquity separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2).

I was also reminded of the story of how Paul came to know Christ. Formerly the greatest persecutor of Christians, Paul was probably the last person others suspected to pioneer missions in the history of the early church. He proceeded to become one of the most influential figures in the Bible. This reminder shifted my sight back to God, the One who is not limited to any circumstances and can work in anyone’s life no matter how broken, sinful and horrible they seem. God is omnipotent and it is not at all impossible for Him to change Kanye’s life.

After these realizations, I was rebuked that instead of praying for God to work in and through Kanye, I was mostly skeptical. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be cautious and concerned, or blindly celebrate him as a new Christian role model. I understand there are questions regarding the nature of his Sunday Service. If his testimony is genuine, we would be able to tell by the fruits it will yield, which is to be followed with massive changes in how he lives his life (Matthew 12:33). However, we are not called to judge and look down on someone who is pursuing God, or anyone really (Matthew 7:1-6).

Final Thoughts
The bottom line is that we can never know whether one is truly saved by God, and it is not our place to judge others. We also might never know if this is all a marketing tactic or if he has truly encountered God and is truly following Jesus. All we know is that the Scriptures are full of stories of those who lived sinful lives or made mistakes (the apostle Paul, King David, the thief on the cross and so on) but received God’s abounding grace and were utterly transformed to spread the message of salvation to the world. So, let’s be prayerful and hopeful, instead of skeptical and judgmental, and rejoice that people are hearing the Gospel through Kanye’s testimony and album (Philippians 1:18).

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