It has been an interesting week. Kanye West released his gospel album, Jesus is King, and it broke the Adventist internet. The debate has been hot and heavy, and I’m sure it’s far from over. It reminds me of when Snoop dropped his gospel album, the Bible of Love. For the record, Snoop’s record was a better record-see what I did there. I can’t judge Kanye’s heart, but I can sure judge his product. Seems like he found religion and lost his creativity….but that’s just me.
Full disclosure? I’ve never been a Snoop or Kanye fan. Motown fans like me still don’t think the words rap and music go together. Just sayin. But I was excited when I heard that they had converted to Christianity. God can redeem anything and use anybody. He has proven that through the likes of David, Solomon, the Apostle Paul, and frankly…you!
I’ve said this before and it bears repeating. Kanye professes Christianity. If he’s a fraud, he’s in good company, because all of us are frauds from time to time. There’s grace for that. I assume he’s sincere, as I do all new-believers. He needs to be taught and mentored.
Those who are close to him need to disciple him. They need to teach him the word of God, and how to make his actions line up with his confession. But here’s the thing. We don’t do him a favor by giving him a pass. My fear is it’s already happening. His greatest danger might be his Christian “friends.”
The Favorite Verse of a Fallen Generation
It is said that the favorite Bible verse today is no longer John 3:16, but Matthew 7:1, “Judge not that you be not judged.” Follow any post about Snoop or Kanye or any other controversial Christian celebrity and you can’t get away from that verse and the comments. “Leave him alone!”; “Stay out of his business.”; “Who are you to judge?” It sounds so progressive. It sounds so loving. It’s not.
The problem with Matthew 7:1 is that it’s generally taken out of context. The issue there is not Should you judge, but How should you judge! In fact, the passage teaches valuable lessons on how Christians should judge correctly. That passage and others teach that it’s wrong to judge motives, but it’s a Christian responsibility to judge or evaluate words and actions. Because if we don’t, there will never be genuine growth or discipleship in the body of Christ. Real love constructively and confidentially confronts me.
Loving Kanye to Death
This is an age that values tolerance over truth. An age suspicious of absolutes. It’s a spiritual age but not a religious age. It’s an Oprah age. A mystic age. It’s uncomfortable with religious expectations and accountability. That is a recipe for disaster for new believers, especially new believers like Kanye. New believers need the support of a loving community that teaches them to discern truth from error- inside them and around them.
And that is the very reason Christians are encouraged to judge, to measure, to weigh the evidence.
- Jesus commends “right judgement” in John 7:24.
- Romans 16:17 encourages Christians to “mark” or judge those who cause divisions in the church.
- I Corinthians 2:15 says, “But he that is spiritual judges all things…”
Young Christians need mature Christians to speak the truth to them in love, Ephesian 4:15. They need loving, honest evaluation from mature believers to help them reach their spiritual potential. And celebrities need direct, honest, confidential discipline more than others. They probably rarely get it.
Snoop has already demonstrated a potential problem. His musical performances and public persona have changed little if at all since his “conversion.” An incident at the University of Kansas last month was particularly embarrassing. Both Snoop and Kanye will find it difficult to grow when they are surrounded by people who have made a living telling them what they want to hear. And it’s not helpful when Christians move from encouragers to enablers.
Critical or Charitable Judgement
There are two basic types of judgement, critical and charitable. Critical judgement is the judgment of the stereotype: superior, insensitive, hurtful and harmful. But all Christians need charitable judgement if they want to grow. Judgement that looks to help and not hurt.
- Charitable judgement reads actions and not motives.
- Charitable judgement builds up, not tears down.
- Charitable judgement is based on principle and not preference.
- Charitable judgment is quick to cover and not expose.
- Charitable judgement removes the log in my eye, before the splinter in yours.
That’s the kind of judgement that Snoop needs and that Kanye needs and that you need and that I need. A judgement that brings out your full potential. A judgement that can save you from one of your greatest enemies. Yourself.
Dr. Jesse Wilson