“I am a recent convert. It means I recently got saved within this year.”
When Christians hear these words, or ones like them, they usually rejoice because it means someone accepted Jesus as their Savior and became a follower of God. But when these words came from the mouth of Kanye West, controversial and outspoken rapper known for his expletive-filled lyrics and God-complex, Christians are skeptical. They wonder, did this man really come to know Jesus?
West isn’t the first celebrity to announce faith in Jesus, but his actions up to and following this statement that he is a recent convert have been surprisingly different than many other celebrities’ revelations of a newfound faith.
For one, West recently released a completely gospel-centered album, “Jesus is King,” and he announced that he will no longer write and perform secular music. His new album contains explicit references to Scripture and his conversion, and he even asks people to pray for him.
In addition, West has recently asked his wife to dress more modestly, has told people not to swear around him and has led “Sunday Service events” since the beginning of this year that focus on worship music and bringing a short sermon to various crowds. He’s been discipled by a pastor at Placertia Bible Church since August. West also says he reads his Bible before going to bed.
Any way you look at it, this looks and feels like a sinner excited about conversion to Christianity.
But many Christians are skeptical because of his past. Some wonder if West only turned to Christianity after the backlash he received when he endorsed President Donald Trump. Some assume it’s simply a publicity stunt and yet another example of West’s polarizing comments and views.
At first glance, it appears that we have just two options: reject West or accept his testimony of salvation. But in reality, it’s not up to us to decide if West is a Christian.
Think of Saul’s conversion in the New Testament. Saul, now Paul, says he was the chief of sinners and the least of the apostles. Saul was a persecutor of Christians, and he stood by and held the coats of Pharisees while they stoned Jesus’ followers. Christians in the New Testament were skeptical then, too, when Saul suddenly changed his name to Paul and began proclaiming Jesus as Lord. They were skeptical of this sudden proclamation because of Saul’s reputation.
It is counterproductive to spend our time deciding if West is a Christian. Who are we to judge someone else’s salvation, something that only God can see in the heart? And think how devasting it would be if we rejected West because of his very past that he was trying to turn away from!
The real question here is how Christians should react. Instead of quibbling over West’s salvation, here are a few things to consider.
If Kanye West is a new believer in Christ, we should celebrate; the angels in heaven would be. And we should respond in love toward him. Every Christian walked away from a life of sin when they chose to follow Jesus; some of our sins just seem more prominent than others’.
We should also rejoice that more people are asking big questions about God and faith because of West’s new album and actions. This is a different audience than most of us in Christian circles can reach—people who might never step foot in a church—and they are becoming curious about Christianity.
However, we must remember that West is not the example we should follow or put upon a pedestal; that should be God. We shouldn’t be looking to West—or, for that matter, any other famous person who is a Christian—for our example of how to live our Christian lives. Only God.
Lastly, we should pray for him. West is a sinner, just like the rest of us, and he is bound to stumble in his walk with Christ if he truly is a believer. But as a celebrity in the limelight, skeptics and critics will be more able to ridicule him if he stumbles.
We should pray for him, and we should pray that the power of the Gospel will reach more lives.