I followed the hype of Kanye’s Sunday Services at arms length for a while. Although they were intriguing, I didn’t quite know what to feel about it all. Was this “Jesus Walks” Kanye with a small hint of Jesus but buckets of self. Was this “Yeezus” Kanye with a little more church? Or was this “truly born again, count the cost and lay it all down for Jesus” Kanye?
At one point around 2013, I went back and listened to every single Kanye interview that has touched the internet. I was so intrigued by this rapper that I had grown up listening to. I mean I devoured his albums until I had an awakening of myself in 2012. His albums held depth growing up as a young black man. But I came to conclusion that this man truly was as deep as a kiddie pool. As I listened, I thought I’ve never heard a guy who likes the sound of his voice as much as this man and decided that I was done listening to Kanye and/or his music. His hypocritical nature was just too much to fathom and I was done being influenced by his ever changing thoughts. But I did commit to praying for him.
Fast forward to April 2019, and I started listening to some leaked clips of his Sunday services. First thoughts were, these songs SLAP, but I’m not here for the church gimmicks...so I’ll pass.
Then the songs became weekly and consistently found themselves on my social media feeds. At this point, I was beginning to wonder what the hype was about.
Then these experiences become a church tour and I was really confused at this point. Pastors were preaching, Kanye’s sharing his testimony, calls to faith are being made, and more...
Yet I still was not fully buying it...
This was until I listened to a clip of his interview with Zane Lewis. This interview was the most genuine I’ve ever heard Kanye. He genuinely seemed repentant for the ways he’s lived his life. There was a new tone and glow to him. I ended up listening to the full interview (link below).
It was clear that this was a new man, but also still very much Kanye West. He still ranted, he still thought highly of himself, but everything pointed back to God. All of his rants ended back at God. This was never the case with Kanye. I’d listened to dozens of hours of him talking over the years and the convo always ended at him...now it ends at Him.
“It’s not a desire it’s my only mission and calling...is to spread the gospel” Kanye West on the Kanye West Interview
“I thought I was the God of culture, but really culture was my God” Kanye West on the Kanye West Interview
This morning I listened to his album that was just released and it was an amazing piece of art! It was so beautiful. It was more than a dope album. It was an experience.
“Everything old shall now become new. The leaves’ll be green, bearing the fruit. Love God and our neighbor, as written in Luke. The army of God and we are the truth” Kanye West on Jesus Is King
“Jesus, flow through us. Jesus, heal the bruises. Jesus, clean the music. Jesus, please use us. Jesus, please help. Jesus, please heal. Jesus, please forgive. Jesus, please reveal. Jesus, give us strength. Jesus, make us well. Jesus, help us live.
Jesus, give us wealth. Jesus is our safe. Jesus is our rock. Jesus, give us grace. Jesus, keep us safe.” Kanye West on Jesus Is King
Everyone deserves grace. Jesus is after the prodigal. He’s obsessed with the prodigal son. He doesn’t calculate the next move of the prodigal. He embraces the hungry and throws parties for them. That’s the God of Christianity. He doesn’t hold our past wrongs against us. Thank God! The church, including myself, can learn a lot from the way Jesus deals with people.
Jesus chose Judas, washed Judas’ feet, and dined with Judas with foreknowledge of his betrayal.
Jesus knew the decisions Judas would make before Judas even knew he would make them. But Jesus still loved Judas.
What can we learn from this?
We don’t know Kanye’s end, but how dare we shun a sinner coming to the feet of the cross with repentance in his heart? If Jesus can serve a man who He knew would betray Him, why can’t we do that for a man who has only shown genuine desire to be a follower of Christ and turn from his old ways.
Believers, we are saints by the righteousness of Christ. Not our own. We’ve been saved by grace as well. We’re not called to fully analyze Kanye’s trajectory, we’re called to love Him and believe that those close to him will edify and challenge him as need be.
This doesn’t mean you have to listen to his album, watch his movie, buy his merch or be his biggest fan. But it is worth exploring your heart posture.
Another thing I’ve seen brought has been his public diagnosis with bipolar disorder. What if all this is a symptom of his mental illness? Then praise God! Mental illness by no means disqualifies people from following Jesus. These Sunday services have actually been an outlet of healing for Kanye according to his interview with Zane. It’s also not who he is and he knows that.
“I’m no longer a slave, I’m a son now...a son of God. I’m free.” Kanye West on the Kanye West Interview
We also have to face the facts. Following Jesus with mental illness can be messy...but it’s not any less valid than following Jesus without mental illness. I’m praying that he would be healed from bipolar disorder as I have friends who’ve struggled deeply with this disorder...but God will get the glory, bipolar or not. He was bipolar when he was making the greatest music in the world, that won’t change what he does for the Kingdom either and what the Kingdom does in him.
All in all. Let’s thank God that Kanye has community and discipleship around Him. The pastor and mentors who invest in him consistently. Let’s thank God for his explicitly Christ glorifying content. His new movie, his Sunday services, and his album. Let’s thank God for his public commitment to follow Jesus the rest of the days of his life. It won’t be an easy journey AT ALL. But he’s committed to it. And that’s what matters.
I love Jesus’ response to Peter when he has questions about one of Jesus’ followers. Peter had asked Jesus about what the end was going to be like for this particular disciple. In essence, Jesus responds don’t worry about all that...just follow me. Love God and love people. Turns out the disciple that Peter was worried about would be go down in history as the beloved apostle and also the one who accounted for the Book of John. (John 21:20-24)
Welcome brother, I repent for my suspicion and I welcome you back home with open arms!
Link to full interview: