Kanye, Ananias, & the Church

Dear Christian Sisters,

There has been a lot of talk in the last few days regarding Kanye West and his new album, “Jesus is King.” I am not going to make an argument about whether or not he is truly converted here. Rather, I want to address the church and talk about what our response should be, to Kanye and to any new believer.

When we hear a celebrity or even someone in our personal lives call themselves a Christian, we are very often skeptical. We hear them declare that they have been saved, but they often do not turn away from their sin. They may even deny core doctrines about who God is.

Many claim the name of Jesus, but do not follow in His ways. In some sense, our skepticism protects the Church and preserves the integrity of the gospel. In fact, the Bible calls us to test all things. Church leaders in particular are called to be on guard against false teachers. While we, as mortal humans, can never truly know the heart of another human, the Bible gives us a guide for discerning whether someone is truly converted and within the Bride of Christ. We look for public declaration of Christ in baptism. We look for fruit in their life.

But we can all too often observe sin and spiritual immaturity in a new believer and discount their confession of faith. We mistake immaturity for faithlessness or insincerity. We criticize a lack of knowledge. We forget that even those of us who have walked with the Lord for years don’t know everything about God and His Word. We still sin every single day. Through the Holy Spirit, God is working daily, hourly to conform us all into the image of Christ.

Remember that you too were once wretched sinners, lost in the sins of the flesh. Until God. Called. You. By His grace. You did nothing to deserve it.

In Acts 9, we read about the conversion of Saul. Following Saul’s conversion and subsequent blinding on the road, God calls Ananias to find Saul (now we know him as Paul) and lay hands on him so that he may see again. Ananias is skeptical. He knows what this man Saul has done to God’s people. BUT… He is obedient to his calling. He trusts that God is sovereign and faithful. He goes to find Saul and lays hands on him, restoring his sight.

Let us be obedient to our calling as the people of God. Let us be gracious, speaking the truth in love. Let us embody the love of Christ. Mr West has reached out to pastors for wise counsel, not only for his life, but in the creation of his new album. He is proclaiming the words of Scripture and the truth of the gospel to the world. He is declaring that Jesus is Lord. He is renouncing abortion. He has openly repented of his past life. He has made changes in his life to follow Christ. May we be so bold in sharing our faith.

While we watch Kanye’s journey as a new believer, we watch for fruit. When we see that fruit, we need to encourage it. We need to lift him up in prayer. Trials and spiritual warfare often come after a public declaration of faith. These are the same things that we do with our friends or family who come to Christ. We come alongside them, welcome them into the family of God, and encourage them to grow. We watch them bear fruit. We lovingly correct them and encourage them if they fall. Sanctification is a process; a process which progresses according to God’s plan, not ours. A process that reveals God’s grace. A process that requires community. A process that glorifies God.

No matter their celebrity, someone turning away from their sin and walking with Christ is ALWAYS something to celebrate and praise God for. Let us ask the Lord to continue to grow His church. Let us ask Him to use us to proclaim the gospel boldly into this dark world. Let us be gracious, loving, and prayerful for this new brother and for all new brothers and sisters in Christ.

Welcome to the family, Mr. West.