Good Friday morning ...
Does the name ring a bell? You may have heard the name at some time over the past several years and, depending on your age, it may or may not have had much impact.
For some he has been known for his flashbulb-popping marriage to Kim Kardashian of the infamous Kardashian clan. For others he is known as a Grammy Award-winning rapper, record producer and fashion designer. He is also known to be outspoken and prone to controversy and would doubtless tell you himself, that he is a twenty-first century phenomenon. Most bizarre, to me at least, is his 2013 rap when he said of himself, "I am god."
Needless to say, I am not a fan.
But of late, I have begun to pay more attention.
At some point in his recent past, Kanye has become a Christian. I have not yet read of or heard his testimony or of his own Damascus Road experience ... but he has become known of late for his Sunday Worship services being held around the country to large masses of people with apparent crazy-like results .... like thousands of people making commitments to Christ on a given Sunday.
That will kind of make you stand up and take notice. In addition, his most recent album is entitled Jesus Is King and has, as one of its featured songs, "Closed on Sundays," a supposed tribute to Chick fila which, as we all know, IS closed on Sundays.
I must say, I am intrigued. Can this be real? Is his turn-around genuine? Is this a sham, a publicity stunt, a means of energizing more record sales? What are we to make of this?
Well, some have been extremely critical. Some have balked at his expression of faith, noting that his personal life did not reflect the sort of holiness typically associated with a Christian walk of faith. Some have out right rejected him as a phony.
I have taken a different approach. Giving Kanye the benefit of the doubt, I have come to recognize how beautifully his conversion would demonstrate the baffling sovereignty of God in the process of salvation and the sometimes-winding paths people take in arriving to where God wants them to be. In Kanye's case ... his change of heart and mind would be phenomenal ... but no less so than Saul's own experience on the Road to Damascus.
And, if we take to heart Jesus' Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 who sowed his seed on all kinds of soil (some rocky, some thorn-infested, some hard and dry, some fertile and receptive), we can understand that the "soil" into which that seed was planted in Kanye's heart was conditioned by the Holy Spirit to receive it.
But there's more. Perhaps you remember the story in Mark chapter 9 when John came to Jesus and complained that a man was casting our demons in Jesus' name and they tried to stop him because he was not one of them. The disciples apparently were agitated about this. Why? Because they do not know this man.
Who is he? Who told him he could perform these exorcisms? Does he really know Jesus?
Perhaps behind John's relating this incident to Jesus was evidence of the disciples’' pride. Remember they did not have great success in trying to perform miracles themselves and perhaps they saw this as a threat to their privileged position with Jesus. Was it that their egos were bruised by this man's activity? Was this unknown exorcist's success a threat to the disciples? We don't know.
But we do know what Jesus said in response: "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us." [Mark 9:39, 40]
By this response, Jesus reveals that the work of God in the world was far greater than the disciples' understanding of it. Jesus is essentially saying to the disciples: "Your view of my work is too small. It is bigger than the twelve of you. My name is going out over the whole earth and many great things will be done in and through it by people you will never know."
It could be that the next Billy Graham is passed out drunk in a fraternity house right now. The next Charles Spurgeon may be making posters for a Gay Pride March right now. The next Mother Teresa might be managing an abortion clinic right now. The next Martin Luther might be a profanity-spewing, hip-hop artist right now.
With all this in mind, I guess I am not as troubled by Kanye West's Sunday Worship services as you might expect me to be. Is it for real? I don't know, but time will tell. I do know that when God chooses to use someone as visible as Kanye it WILL bring the results He fashioned. So, we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, all the pundits are having a field day.
One thing we know for sure: The Church of Jesus Christ will prevail. He promised it and I believe it!
Have a great weekend in the Lord ... making sure YOU are in Sunday Worship ...
"Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." [Matthew 16:18]