Kanye West, “the greatest artist that God has ever created, is now working for … the Lord himself.” These are the words West said to a group of thousands worshipping at Pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston yesterday. West stood on stage, side-by-side with Osteen, and spoke candidly about how he came to love Jesus more deeply than he ever has before. While West has projected himself to be an irrational and at times unstable individual, he said that is all behind him now because he is working for God. He also, fittingly, released an album titled Jesus Is King. So, are we seeing West’s authentic conversion to Christianity or just another marketing ploy?
It’s challenging to decipher the question when the evidence of both is staring you right in the face. Sunday’s service in Houston included the “Jesus Is King” throughout its social media marketing promotion, but where is the lie? Jesus is king, after all. But with TMZ streaming the service and a reportedly late start from the star himself, the message that Jesus is good seems interwoven with the message that making money is also quite holy.
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When West finally took the stage to speak about his faith, he spoke sincerely about the moment that got him to this new faith-led point.
“I know that God’s been calling me for a long time, and the devil’s been distracting me for a long time,” West said, according to People magazine. “When I was in my lowest points, God was there with me and sending me visions and inspiring me, and I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a mental breakdown, and there’s documentation of me drawing a church and [wanting to] start a church in the middle of Calabasas.” West was referring to his hospitalization in 2016.
He added, “Because every time I stand up, I feel that I’m standing up and drawing a line in the sand and saying, ‘I’m here in service to God and no weapon formed against me shall prosper,'” he said. “Jesus has won the victory. I told you about my arrogance and cockiness already. Now the greatest artist that God has ever created is now working for him.”
There’s no denying that West is motivated by his faith and the message of Jesus, but it’s West’s celebrity — and Osteen’s, at that — that muddles the faith message. Jesus wasn’t about being grandiose. He wasn’t keen on being rich. Jesus himself said, in Matthew 19, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And in Matthew 5 he states, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Let’s be serious — there’s nothing poor or meek about West.