Problematic Messengers and King Jesus

Jesus is King

That’s what I’m hoping all my friends and family leave this Earth believing. It’s also what Kanye West wants you to know as of October 25th, 2019 with the release of his album — you guessed it– “Jesus is King”

Yes, this is that Kanye West. The once highly-heralded conscious Chi-town rapper who saw much maintstream and sub-genre success who now is most associated with overpriced clothing and his vocal support of Donald J. Trump. Kanye went from accusing George Bush of not caring about black people during a telethon for Hurricane Katrina to now being cancelled by the same very same black people he wanted the world to recognize.

Much speculation has gone out as to why he is now who he is. His marriage to a Kardashian daughter, the death of his mother, his battle with mental illness; maybe all 3 or something else we can’t see yet. Whatever the catalyst for his behavior, Kanye West is problematic. The degree to which is debatable but the fact stands that Kanye West is more known for controversy than anything else is his decade-plus long music and celebrity career. So what happens when a problematic famous person turns around and thinks He has the right to open his cancelled mouth to talk about our Holy Lord and Savior?

When that happens, we should call it the gospel. No, not the nice cleaned up one that looks like suits and ties and Sunday dresses. No it’s not the one that we try to lock away in the depths of church basements, only allowing those we deem worthy to take hold of its contents. No, it’s not that gospel, if you can even call it that. But it is the gospel that has been preached throughout generations by only problematic messengers.

The Bible is made up of nothing but problematic messengers that should have been “cancelled” for their behavior. And I mean that sincerely: there’s no earthly reason why any author of any text or any leader of God’s people in the word should have been allowed to write such a holy book or lead the people of such a holy God. David was a murderer/adulterer, Solomon had over 600 wives and side-chicks, Paul was a terrorist, Samson couldn’t keep it in his pants, Peter denied knowing the very Son of God, and on and on. And although the Bible does not give us an exhaustive list of the sins of it authors, we know they were messed up because they were human. To be human is to be problematic and in need of a Savior. The message of the gospel can only be given by people who are not, in and of themselves, worthy to give it.

So, I understand why this message is hard to receive from Kanye. We cannot forget his problematic behavior, as if to think nothing ever happened. There is genuine hurt and actual reconciliation needed for his words and actions. And as a new believer he will need to be discipled and walked with as he stumbles and fails forward toward his Savior and attempts to navigate the space of his past actions.

So, yes I understand why you can’t listen to Kanye talk about God. My problem is that I think our reasoning for not listening to Kanye might expose that somehow we think we more worthy to talk about God than Kanye. Somehow we who say we love Jesus have forgotten that we should have been cancelled by way of eternal separation from the Father; yet instead of cancellation, we were offered salvation. And our salvation is a gift from God, not in anyway earned on our part. So the ability to talk about the gospel is also a gift. If you are not worthy on your own of being saved, then how do you think you are now worthy on your own of talking about salvation?

One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is in Luke 7. I’ve blogged about it before because I truly connect with one of the characters. A known prostitute walks in a Pharisee’s house where Jesus is eating and starts anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and wiping them her tears. The Pharisee rejected the idea that such a sinful woman would even think about coming near the presence of such a prophet. Jesus then gives the Pharisee a convicting story about how those who realize their extreme need for forgiveness show it in ways of extreme thankfulness. What Jesus knew that this brave women and this ignorant Pharisee did not know was that she was actually a messenger of the gospel at that moment. She came to the Lord Jesus with all she had, some perfume and a bad reputation, and hoped that Jesus would do something with it. And he did. She was acknowledged, she was forgiven, she was sent away with her existence validated by the Creator of the world, and she became a sign of Jesus’ forgiving power and compassionate mission.

It is easy to compare what we have done then compare it to Kanye and say “Well I least I havent done that“. But the reality is that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And that all of us who call ourselves Christians were once spiritually dead in our sins and we were brought to spiritual life through the intervening work of God. And it is only because He commissioned us to His good works that we get the privilege to speak about Him to others. But make no mistake: we are all still very problematic. The difference between us and God is that only one of us thinks being problematic stops us from being used by God.

I pray Kanye is truly converted. I pray His soul is in the Father’s hands and that His conversion is true. I also know Kanye is still problematic because I know that after justification comes sanctification. And I know Kanye’s sanctification, like his salvation, will be public too. He will mess up. His album will be used against him the next time he does something crazy. I pray he is protected from the pressure to prove His salvation is real. I pray that “Jesus is King” is used to bring people back to Jesus, or to introduce them to Him for the first time.

I do not know how this saga ends for Kanye. But I do know this: Kanye West is no more problematic than me. But luckily for both of us, Jesus is King.

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