Op-ed: Kanye West, Fraud or Forgiven?
By Ryan Jennings
Where is Jesus in all of this Kanye nonsense? The literal answer? He is in the same place He has been since He ascended into Heaven, after He stole the keys to death, Hell and the Grave. Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. The figurative answer, in reference to Kanye and the current opinion of fans, Christians, the world, anyone: Jesus is ALL over, in and through the situation. He is in the media, internet search results, in the screen you are looking at right now, on the paper you are reading and quite possibly He is in your heart and mind in this very moment. For the common and average, everyday truth-seeker, it may be complicated to conceptualize “Jesus is King,” due to the glasses you are potentially wearing in your current paradigm.
Maybe your glasses are the ones that only allow you to see a Kanye story based on everything you have seen of him up until now. Maybe your glasses are the ones that allow you to hope his newfound faith is authentic and absolute. Or maybe your glasses are made of fish scales. If that’s the case, they could and possibly will fall off your face, similar to Paul’s, leading to a newly restored, Christ-centered perspective.
Regardless of the countless Bible stories you’ve heard about how the Lord uses thieves, prostitutes and murderers, maybe God in Heaven himself decided, “Hey, it’s time I use an imbecile for my Glory again.” And in true, Christ-like fashion, He inserts Kanye West. Kanye is 100%, absolutely the least likely, least expected, sin and church cursed instrument for God to use. After all, God is notorious for using the foolish to shame the wise.
In reference to the legitimacy of Kanye’s “all in” faith walk, What did the very first Christians say about Paul? “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.”
There’s no denying, 1 John 4:1
My dear friends, don’t believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.
And yet, there’s always this:
It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we serve. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
I have been in worship services where I felt the tangible presence of God. The presence has been so strong that I have danced in it, seen healing happen (physically and spiritually), seen families restored. At the same time, people drive by the building, claiming they felt God’s presence so strong, they had to pull over and see what was happening. I was SO close to God and His heart. I used to make fun of backsliders claiming, “If people ever experienced God the way I have, they would NEVER turn away”. Yet, I was and still am one of them, at times.
That being said, Here’s what Kanye’s “Jesus is King” did for me. After years of producing Hip Hop beats, surrounded by the culture, I formed my opinions about Kanye. Honestly, I was only a fan of three Kanye songs: “Through the Wire,” “Jesus Walks” and “Stronger”. Each of these all had hints of what I considered “spirituality” and “authenticity”. However, Kanye’s actions and public comments, helped me grow to despise him. Kanye has said and done some downright outrageous things. Years later, after seeing what has happened with Kanye, I realize a lot of the things he has struggled with are the same things I have struggled with (though on a much smaller scale and out of the public eye). God forbid if I would have ever “made it” in the music biz with my heart in the wrong place. I would have led many astray.
Upon my first listen to “Jesus is King”, I had certain expectations sonically that weren’t met. Obviously I hated it. During the last 6 weeks (for an unknown reason) I dove back in the Word, daily devotionals, and prayer. As a result, one night while sitting by the fire, I decided to listen to the album again, but this time I was seeking objectively to hear an unadulterated, truthful version of Jesus in the lyrics, production and overall project.
Needless to say, He smacked me in the face. It made me realize, my focus wasn’t aligned with God’s heart. My focus has been in the wrong place for a while. Jesus spoke to me and asked “who are your eyes fixed on? Kanye, or Me?” If my eyes are 100% fixed on Jesus, I hear and feel Him in the album. Now, I’m not listening to a man, I’m worshipping the Lord. My prayer is that Jesus uses Kanye to draw men near to His heart. If I’m looking at Kanye without searching for Christ, my own humanism gets in the way and statements start coming out of my mouth such as “Kanye’s a fraud. It’s all just a show. God can’t use him!”
We as believers, living in a sin-cursed world are in daily warfare, not of flesh and blood but the principalities of darkness. With that in perspective, if God can use Kanye, the same way He has used so many before him, why wouldn’t He do it again?
You don’t have to jump on the Kanye train, but you CAN jump on the Jesus train. Kanye or not. Just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, never the messenger. Remember, you were once stuck in the miry clay, drowning in sin, and Christ reached down to save you when you didn’t deserve it. He hung onto that cross for Kanye, too. Kanye’s willingness to be an instrument is inspiring. Be willing to let God use you. Whether you end up winning one or many for the Kingdom, or in some cases, simply planting the seed, just be a part of the process. Answer the call.
In the words of Kanye:
Use this gospel for protection
It’s a hard road to Heaven
We call on your blessings
In the Father, we put our faith
King of the kingdom
Our demons are tremblin’
Holy angels defendin’
In the Father, we put our faith
How could He not be the greatest?
Jesus, flow through us.
Jesus, Heal the bruises.
Jesus, clean the music.
Jesus, please use us.
Jesus, please help.
Jesus, please heal.
Jesus, please forgive.
Jesus, please reveal.
Jesus, give us strength.
Jesus, make us well.
Jesus, help us live.
Jesus, give us wealth.
Jesus is our safe,
Jesus is our rock.
Jesus, give us grace.
Jesus, keep us safe.
If all you have done is sit back, read headlines, and be “judgy”, I encourage you to watch the interview. Listen to the album again with a humble heart seeking to “find the Jesus” in it. He’s in there. It’s up to you to find Him.