As suspense around Kanye West’s new album Jesus is King builds, West is putting on concerts and listening parties around the country. The delayed release (September 27th was the original date) is serving to further raise anticipation for what’s surely going to be one of the most listened-to albums of the year.
Beyond Jesus is King, West announced at a recent concert in Chicago that he will be exclusively writing Christian rather than secular songs according to music blogger Andrew Barber.
Intrigue surrounding this particular album comes largely from West’s recent public professions of Christ as King and Lord. Some are hesitant to believe West’s profession of conversion, likely due to certain blasphemous aspects of West’s past, including professions of Christianity only for West to later profess that he himself is god.
I can’t speculate from afar as to the sincerity of West’s conversion, but we can judge the fruits we can see – and there’s good fruit being born right now by and around Kanye West.
For starters, the way West has been speaking is impressively Biblical. If someone wants to use the name of Jesus to make a buck, they’ll speak about the warm and fuzzy aspects of Christianity. They’ll speak exclusively about God’s love and mercy, neglecting the offensive aspects of the Gospel relating to sin and submission to God’s word. A far cry from the prosperity gospel and the all-love-no-wrath Jesus that permeates so much of Christian pop culture, West spoke of “radical obedience” to Christ a few weeks ago in Atlanta, not exactly a message for the lukewarm. From that message:
“You sent your only Son to die for us and all you ask is for radical obedience to you. You’re not asking us to do the least. People are like, ‘at least I…’ How are you going to do the least when He did the most?
“I’ve seen Him work miracles in my life. You know, the devil presents so many flashy, shiny objects. I’ve seen everything that the devil could’ve showed you via TV, videos, car dealerships, jewelry, houses, and I’ll tell you – nothing beats God.
“Let’s not be concerned with the opinions of men at all. Only the opinion of God. Let’s not be concerned with the validation of men at all. Only of God… I know we say ‘this is the culture. That’s the culture.’ To be radically in service to Christ is the only culture that I want to know about. In the four walls [of the church building], out of the four walls, in the school halls…
“Our Father, Christ Jesus, thank you for bringing me to the home where I was born, where my mother met my daddy – for saving me, for replenishing me, for delivering me. When I found out about you and got closer to you, I got closer to my children, I got closer to my family, because the devil had me chasing a gold statue – Had me chasing cars, had me chasing numbers… The power of God cannot be calculated by a number, by a first-week sales, by a bank account, by how many cars you drive, by how big your house is, how many acres you got. It’s [by] God inside of us, God inside of families, God inside of friendships that we hold each other accountable.
“Another thing the devil tries to say is ‘why are you speaking up so much?’ I’m just pointing to the Word.”
On September 27th, West and choir director Jason White led a concert in Detroit with a setlist featuring “Jesus Christ Is the Light,” “Father Stretch My Hands,” and “We Serve a Great God,” among other hymns. In the middle of the worship concert, Adam Tyson, pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Newhall, CA gave a mini-sermon. West could’ve had Joel Osteen or T.D. Jakes give a feel-good, Jesus-accepts-everyone, self-help encouragement. But instead Tyson was invited to give the true Gospel.
“If you’ve ever seen God, the God of the Bible, you’ll recognize that he is holy. There’s a second thing that’ll happen to you if you’ve ever really seen God – it’s that you’ll realize that you and I are sinners. He’s a holy God, you and I are sinners. Isaiah said this: ‘And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’
“See, we’re not God. We’re not like God. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The Bible says the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…
“God is Holy, you and I are sinners, and the reaction to that is that you have a choice. You can either run from God, or you can repent and know God… If you’re here today, this is the message that we bring to you. God is holy, we’re all sinners, Christ came so that you can be born again and have a new life only by his blood, only by his sacrifice. And through His resurrection, you can say today ‘here am I, Lord, here I am Lord. Send me.'”
There were probably many Christians in that Detroit audience, but there were also probably a lot of unbelievers who came to see West who hadn’t been to church in years or ever who heard the Gospel because of what God is doing in and around Kanye West.
Again, I don’t know him, nor can I pass judgement on the sincerity of West’s conversion. His actions over time will tell. But for now, some really awesome things are happening. Praise God.
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