Kanye West and celebrity “conversions”

Kanye West and celebrity “conversions”

Recently I came out in support of Kanye West’s conversion to faith in Christ. Read that again. Slowly. I support his conversion, his profession, his faith in Christ…

Not any of his past. Not any of his present antics. Not his political choices. Not even every spiritual sounding thing he says. I support his very vocal, very well-articulated, very public salvation experience through his acknowledgement of his need for Christ, and faith in His work.

Am I skeptical of Kanye? Sure. I’m skeptical of anyone who wants something from me – whether that’s my purchase of their album (which I did), or persuade me to give them my vote (which I never do).

Here are some observations I make about people who sincerely receive Christ into their lives:

  • They can’t shut up about Him! Whether we’re talking about Biblical characters like Zacchaeus (Luke 19), or the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) – people who get saved by Jesus, are consistently compelled to share Jesus. Kanye – in true Kanye fashion – has not stopped talking about what Jesus did for him. That rings true to me.
  • They are reckless in their abandonment of their old life. Peter got called by Jesus to follow Him (Matthew 4), and Peter literally quit his job on the spot! Walked out on his fishing business with his dad to follow Jesus. Kanye is an artist, but he’s an artist who made millions promoting godless, moral-less anthems. Since his faith experience, he’s put all of that reputation in jeopardy. Maybe more accurately, you could say he’s crucified that life with this new faith.
  • They have to do something! I mentioned Zacchaeus earlier. Zacchaeus was a legal thief, a.k.a. tax collector for the Roman government. When he encountered the love of Christ, he made a decision to pay back what he took unjustly from others, with heavy interest. Kanye writes music. He’s using what he has. In his words, from God Is, “I can’t sit here and be still, everybody I will tell, ’til the whole world is healed!”
  • They are messy. Almost every new Christian is messy. Some more “mature” Christians are messy! Basically we’re all a just a forgiven mess. But my point is, that new believers are still figuring everything out, and how to die to themselves everyday. And that’s not easy! Kanye, and those who celebrated his faith, came under fire when a quote he made about himself being the “greatest artist God ever created” came out. Yeah, that’s arrogant! But I also know that with all the publicity he’s gotten lately he was bound to say something stupid eventually. Wasn’t that everyone’s point? Isn’t that why he keeps getting attention, because people are more interested in seeing him fall, rather than succeed in his faith profession? Shame on us.

I would never feel any compulsion to support everything someone does or says – a celebrity whom I’ve never met, least of all. And Kanye is no different. But what I will defend – literally to my last breath – is that Jesus died for everyone. And absolutely anyone who turns from themselves to Christ’ work on the cross, His death and resurrection, is fully and utterly redeemed by God. Whether that person is a politician, rapper, college student, “cradle Christian”, or LGBT+. That is what I’m supporting. That is where I’m coming from.

What Kanye needs right now is grace and discipleship, which I hear he is receiving. I hope that’s true. What we need, fellow Christians, is to actually stand on the gospel – and it’s power to save absolutely anyone. Heaven will be filled with people with sketchy pasts. You and I included. We just might not have to figure our new faith out on a worldwide stage.

Blessings,
Pastor John

So Close…

“Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions, ‘Don’t go to the Gentiles, or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel – God’s lost sheep.'” Matthew 10:5,6

I live and do ministry in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa – an area that sits right on the Mississippi River with a population of approximately 325,000. The QC is a pretty typical Mid-West area. There is massive farming communities immediately outside (and somewhat inside) the cities, We are home to several major manufacturers, and nearly everyone has a church background.

I’m amazed at how I often I run into people and how seldom any of them claim no church affiliation. Here in the Mid-West, church is something that nearly everyone grew up with. And regardless of whether or not you actually go to church has nothing to do with “belonging” to a particular flavor of of religion that your parents or grandparents said you belong to.

When Jesus sends His disciples out for the first time on their first attempt at doing ministry outside of his direct supervision, He instructs them not to go to the Gentiles (Non-Jews) or the Samaritans (Half-Jews), but to the people of Israel, “God’s lost sheep.”

Really? The Jews? God’s “lost” sheep?!? Didn’t Jesus understand how well these Jews knew God? How well they obeyed the Old Testament? Their superior understanding of the laws of Moses? Didn’t He see the synagogues filled each Sabbath day with Jews eager to obey God?

Out here, nearly everyone knows about Jesus, believes in God, and owns a Bible. Almost all QC residents would claim some building as “the church I grew in.” Many of them even make the occasional appearance for Christmas or Easter. Most were married in a church. But with all of this religion and church experience there is an enormous oversight…

You see, the Jews would not have considered themselves “God’s lost sheep.” They would have considered themselves to be God’s favorites. But the truth is, they were off. They had a “form of godliness” but not the true “power thereof.” Being in church doesn’t make you close to God any more than me being in a shop makes me a mechanic.

Be careful that you’re not so close to “God” that you miss Him completely. Understand that your connection to Him is as close as you want it to be – He’s never been the one to leave.

A lot of people know about God, but don’t actually have a relationship with Him. There’s a word for a person who knows a lot about someone without having a relationship with them: “stalker!” Too many people are stalking God, but have not accepted the invitation to know him through Jesus Christ.

What about you? Do you know God, or are you creepin‘?