Kanye West and God's Redemptive Grace

Recently, Kanye West has been making headlines (I feel like that’s an evergreen phrase) with his recent actions surrounding church and his faith. Over the past year, he’s been organizing and holding church services across the country, having interviews where he talks about his new-found faith in God, and even recently announcing a new gospel-influenced album entitled Jesus Is King. Kanye says that Jesus Is King has been made to be "an expression of the gospel and to share the gospel and the truth of what Jesus has done to me."

Kanye is an incredibly polarizing person, no doubt about it. Over the span of his career, he’s done some pretty wild stuff. He has talked about how he views himself almost as a god. He’s written horribly misogynistic songs. He donned a MAGA hat a year ago and hung out in the Oval Office. He even more recently went on TV and recited gross, prejudiced rhetoric. Frankly, it can be exhausting trying to keep up with Kanye West. However, over the past year as Kanye has made headlines about his faith, I’ve been really disheartened by the responses of Christians. Maybe we’re all tired of Kanye at this point, or think The Life Of Pablo didn’t live up to the hype. However, it has felt like many, if not most Christians have heard about Kanye's recent antics and flippantly dismissed it as “Kanye being Kanye again.” It seems like many, if not most Christians don’t think Kanye’s new-found faith could possibly be genuine, and many people think this is another attention seeking scheme of his because at the end of the day, "Kanye will be Kanye". Instead of giving Kanye or the faith in God he claims to have a chance, many Christians have dismissed him entirely.

Here’s the thing: the bible is full of utterly, broken people whose hearts were touched by God. People who made claims bolder than Kanye ever has, and did things crazier than Kanye ever will. David had an affair with a guy's wife, got her pregnant, and then proceeded to have the husband killed just to cover it up. Zacchaeus was a tax collector who took advantage of the most vulnerable members of society to make himself rich. Paul was a guy whose professional job was to go door to door and murder believers of Jesus. Yet, each of these stories are bold examples of God’s redemptive grace and ability to touch the hearts and lives of broken people. David wasn’t defined by his horrific mistake and was still able to have a meaningful, impactful life. Zacchaeus had an encounter with Jesus and his heart changed. He then made it his mission to pay back every single person he had wronged, even if it meant he would now be the one living in poverty. Paul went from murdering Christians to becoming one of the most influential leaders of the early Christian church, eventually losing his life because of his belief in Jesus. None of us are too broken to encounter God.

Over the past few years, my faith has evolved from one where everything always seemed very black and white to me, to one where I see the grey areas and embrace them instead of running away or rejecting them. I don’t think faith or belief in God is supposed to be a cut-and-dry, yes or no type deal. To me, Kanye West and his faith is a grey area. In writing this, my intent is not to defend Kanye and make a case to prove he’s changed. My intent is to make a case for the power of God’s grace. It is entirely possible in a week from now, Kanye will log onto twitter and tweet this was all just a giant joke. But is it not also possible that Kanye could be genuine? That he could actually have faith and truly be trying to follow God to the best of his ability? Is God not in the business of touching hearts and changing lives? As I reflect over my life, if I had a dollar for every negative thing I've done I would be a billionaire. I’ve said terrible things and I’ve done terrible things. We all have. However, God met me where I was and changed my life for the better. No one is too broken or too off the rails for God to be able to do that, and he can do it with Kanye too. Of course, there is reality to this: when Paul had his moment of truth and believed in God, everyone in the early church took him with a grain of salt, and rightfully so! They worried it was a ploy to get inside their circles and kill them later on! However, there’s a difference between taking Kanye’s recent actions with a grain of salt and utterly dismissing his actions as being genuine in any way because of his past. In my opinion the latter is dangerous, because what we’re really saying is that Kanye West exists outside of the grace and mercy of God. We can actually see the "grain of salt" dynamic play out in Acts 9 with how people in the early church embraced and took care of Paul even though they weren't sure if he was truly being genuine.

Embrace the grey areas. Take things with a grain of salt, but don't doubt the power of God's redemptive grace.