“King of Kings, Lord of Lords, all the things He has in store. From the rich to the poor, all are welcome through the door.” (“God Is”, Kanye West)
At a time when those identifying as Christians in the US is falling, I am asking why one of the most famous hip-hop/rap artists in the world would name his brand-new album “Jesus is King.”
Not a huge rap fan? I’m not either. Not familiar with Kanye West? Here’s some context. He has racked up nearly two dozen Grammy awards. He is ranked #19 on Spotify, a digital music service, for most listeners in the world. He is married to a Kardashian (Kim). His music is normally non-religious but over the years he has sung about God and Jesus.
This album is different. There’s no cursing. The focus is on following Jesus as King. Now as you might expect, some people are rolling their eyes over West’s album, especially some Christians. Kanye seems to have anticipated this response. In his song “Hands On”, Kanye sings: “Said I'm finna do a gospel album. What have you been hearin' from the Christians? They'll be the first one to judge me. Make it feel like nobody love me.”
What is the motivation behind Kanye’s album? Who can really say other than God? What I do know is that this album about following Christ comes at a time when people are not exactly banging down the doors seeking religious music. In Philippians 1:18, Paul writes “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I will rejoice.”
There’s a lot more to the Kanye story, including the so-called “Sunday Service” concerts he organizes, but what I give thanks for…is that Christ is being preached. Is Kanye a broken vessel? Yes, but so am I. So are all of us.
November 24 is a day in the Church year called “Christ the King Sunday.” Some say this name is no longer relevant. Who in the US can connect to having a king? I think this is unfortunate, because although we live in a democratic society, the image of a King is still a good one for Jesus. We owe him our loyalty and our whole lives and yet, Jesus comes as a King not to Lord it over us but to serve. Only when our life becomes conformed to His, in servant love, do we find true happiness.
West’s album includes a song called “Closed on Sunday” about…can you guess…Chick-fil-A. But deeper down, prayer flows through this album. Including in the song “Water” “Jesus, flow through us. Jesus, heal the bruises. Jesus, clean the music. Jesus, please use us.”
And because of this I will rejoice.