Kanye West, who released albums like Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has now released an exclusively Christian album titled “Jesus is King.” The same man who once rapped “I am God,” now sings on a song titled “Jesus is Lord”: “Every knee shall bow and tongue confess, ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
There’s plenty of scuttle over the genuineness of his conversion. Is it for real? Is this true faith, or another ambitious career stunt? Will he continue to confess his Christian faith in a year, or ten? Is he making money off of his “Sunday Services”? Where does the gospel fit in a world of celebrity, paparazzi, and Kardashians?
There are plenty of Christians and non-Christians skeptical of Kanye’s radical pivot. It’s a risky career move. Criticism abounds. He will alienate many. I refuse to question any man’s confession of Jesus Christ. I actually prayed for Kanye yesterday, which seemed like the right thing to do, although strange.
Rather than analyze Kanye, here is my takeaway: Declaring that “Jesus is Lord” should cost something. It’s a risky claim for someone to make. “Jesus is Lord” was the first confession of the earliest Christians, a scandalous thing to say in the Empire of a Caesar who demanded singular obedience. The first followers claimed that a man executed by the government was in fact the world’s rightful King, the Son of God, the Ruler above all the earth’s kings (Col. 1:15-20; Rev. 1:5).
In the first century, making this confession was dangerous. To the Jews “Christ crucified,” was blasphemy. To the Gentile, it was utter foolishness (I Cor. 1:23). Could you die for this confession? Many did. If not death, it certainly meant damage to your reputation, potential loss of social standing and employment. Family relationships were forever altered.
In twenty-first century America, “Jesus is King” is finally becoming risky again. It’s about time. We have tamed the confession to be akin to American cultural conformity. This is no longer the case.
One of the questions in our traditional confirmation rite is this. “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?”
Kanye has me thinking about my own affirmative answer to this question. Will I submit everything to Christ the King?
Will I choose the unconventional life of faith rather than the predictable path of safety?
Will I choose courage over convenience ?
Will I give up profit and popularity for Him?
Will I suffer, even to death, for the truth that “Jesus is King”?