In 1979 Bob Dylan was the king of counter culture when he shocked the world by releasing an album that had songs detailing his Christian conversion. The evangelical world rejoiced at this cultural victory, though that celebration would only last until around 1982 when he returned to Judaism.
This kind of history gives some people pause in celebrating the recent public conversion of Kanye West to Christianity. We are fully aware that it’s not the beginning of the race but the end that shows if a person has truly converted.
That being said, I will gladly celebrate anyone who says they have converted to Christianity and speaks boldly about God. I’ve listened to his many interviews, and Kanye seems to be on point. He even states that he is not a theologian because he is a new convert, which is a sign of great humility. His wife, who is one of the most influential women in our culture, even posted three simple words to her Instagram account, “Jesus is King.”
In some weird way I feel embolden by the way Kanye talks so openly about Jesus. Lately, it has seemed as though the culture was winning and not the Kingdom. Pop culture and television spend a fair amount of time mocking the Christian faith. We are portrayed as dumb and naïve. The most popular shows on television have been so full of violence, nudity and language that I could not participate in the cultural conversations around these shows. It felt as though we had been pushed back into the corner and forced to wear a dunce cap.
Christians were becoming culturally irrelevant; churches all around me are shutting their doors, and it is getting harder and harder to reach people with the Gospel. I think we just needed this win. I know, theologically, we already have won. The battle is over, but the human side of me was a little discouraged. It just feels really good to hear someone who was such a cultural force say they were wrong and Jesus is king.
Kanye West has talked more about Jesus in a week than some Christians have talked about him in years. Perhaps this is the permission that some of you needed in order to be more bold about your faith. Sometimes, just being reminded of how radically you have been changed can re-light that old fire burning within you.
To see someone on primetime television talk about being saved by Jesus is a reminder that the culture will always need a king. You know His name; you know His Gospel, and if you see me standing on the street corner declaring “Jesus is King,” well, Kanye made me do it.