Let it go down in history that I had the opportunity to see Kanye West live during his album showcase tour at churches in 2019. Whoa, did I just say tour? If that made you feel hype in agreement, or sort of uncomfortable then please keep reading…The new album Jesus is King is something as a Christian that makes my heart sing, but there is tons of controversy surrounding Kanye’s choice to produce a gospel album and his statement of no longer choosing to make secular music. I’ve listened to hip hop and gospel radio stations alike and no one seems to agree that this is the right move for him.
As I continue to gather opinions on how the continual delayed release is making people feel, the question I really want us to ponder is —Who are we to judge if he is using Christ to make money?
I am seriously asking….“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1
A number of people in the black community have written Kanye off specifically due to his political views, comments, and association with Trump. I distinctly recall many of my peers who wouldn’t listen to the “Ye” album. I wondered if my black card would be revoked because I was still a fan, and where my loyalty should really lie. When any Kanye debate arises it never fails that his marriage to Kim Kardashian comes into play. However, my goal today isn’t to talk about interracial marriage, rearing biracial children, or even how fathering affects his ideology and public persona. Instead, I want to dig deep into who we are as Christians and how our fandom and financial support relates to the God we serve. I want to dive even deeper into the comfortability we have in judging others actions instead of looking at our own.
I struggle with being judgmental.
Sadly, there is a part of me that is continually looking at people’s underlying motivations and trying to assess why they do what they do instead of just letting them be. I know there are people who sign up for the church meeting in hopes of finding a partner. There are people who use bible verses to get their points across, or pull someone’s heart strings. Am I the only one who’s ever prayed a prayer that would only benefit me, and it was more like a petition or plea? Some argue that Capitalizing on Christ isn’t right, but to me…it’s a sign of being human. As sinners, as people, we are selfish. Many times we can have a self-gain, and won’t care if it means we use Jesus’ name!
“A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.” Proverbs 21:2
In the end, it’s not our duty to judge why Kanye is making this album. I miss the old Kanye and seeing him, hearing him speak at that church reminded me of why I fell in love with him and Jesus Walks. To be real, the preacher speaking that day asked for money for an hour and only talked about himself and how he went from rags to riches. When the album (finally) comes out, I challenge you to find the bright side. Listen to the words and challenge yourself to see if you believe what you are speaking or if it’s just catchy. Take a moment and pray for our adolescents, lost young adults who may hear these words and they could be used to point them to a relationship with Jesus the King.
It’s humorous to me because this is almost a question of how society feels about Christian Hip Hop. Nicki Minaj was on Tasha Cobb’s album, Lil Kim was on Kirk Franklin’s, and Tori Kelly’s sophomore album is nothing, but worship. Then there is Lecrae who fights daily to just be called a rapper instead of a “Christian” rapper. Lastly, everyone hates Chance’s “The Big Day” and I can’t imagine if some of it has to do with the Christian values of abstinence and marriage! Did anyone care about Snoop’s gospel?! (I did lol)
In the end, God and God alone is the one true King. He is the only one to know our hearts. I am not trying to influence your opinion on art, but I do want to influence the next Kanye debate you get into. Or the next time you are quick to judge a fellow believer— and cast that first stone (John 8:7). If you claim that “Jesus is King”, but never listen to words and songs which uplift him, then should you even be part of the Kanye dialogue?
Ha, there I go judging again… Let me go listen to my fave song: Souls Anchored!