When reports first came out about Kanye West’s by-invite-only ‘Sunday Services’ and his seeming conversion to Christianity, I read them with a measure of scepticism. I wondered, is this just going to be yet another celebrity who jumps on the Christian bandwagon in order to advance his career?
Surprisingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it probably isn’t. While the first half of Jesus Is King seems to focus more on Kanye than Christ, that is, in part, intentional. The album is meant to be listened to as a whole, with the first half reflecting his struggle with God and his faith.
However, the second half of the album after “Everything We Need” was a surprise. As his struggle with God seems to come to a resolution, his lyrics convey genuine faith and belief in Christ. For example, on “God Is,” he sings, “I can’t keep it to myself, I can’t sit here and be still/ Everybody, I will tell ’til the whole world is healed.” On “Jesus is Lord,” the lyrics come straight out of the Bible: “Every knee shall bow/ Every tongue confess/ Jesus is Lord” (Rom 14:11). On “Hands On,” he acknowledges his past wrongs, and calls out Christians who have judged him during his conversion. However, he also pleads, “But I have a request, you see/ Don’t throw me up, lay your hands on me/ Please, pray for me.”
As I listened to Jesus Is King, I was moved by Kanye’s sincerity, and couldn’t help but wonder what was the point of me doubting his faith. Luke 15:1–7 speaks of how heaven rejoices when even one sinner returns home — shouldn’t I rejoice as well? In many ways, Kanye’s faith seems genuine.
So, is the album worth a listen? I would say, sure, but with discretion. Kanye is clearly no theologian or worship leader, and neither does he set out to be. His album isn’t meant to be a worship album, though many of the songs are inherently worshipful as they praise the name of Jesus. If Jesus is King, then Kanye is just like all of us — a sinner in need of grace, on a journey of learning how to be more like Christ.
Instead of being cynical about Kanye’s conversion, perhaps it would be better for us to pray for Kanye as a brother, and ask God to let His name be lifted high for the world to see — even if it is through the unlikeliest of persons!