We Are Not Kanye
I recently read my brother Odd Thomas’ blog entitled, “We are a Kanye,” which was written in response to Kanye West’s song, “I am a God.” I applaud Odd Thomas’ astute observation of the pervasiveness of idolatry in our hearts as well as the tendency to see ourselves as much further along than we actually are. He kept us close to the fact that, even as believers, we still wrestle with remaining sin. He reminded us that we shouldn’t speak down to culture as if we aren’t ourselves tied into culture. I think that the article has done much good. With that said, I also think that there’s reason to ponder the line of reasoning presented in the article.
We are not a Kanye
As I consider the scope of Scripture, especially how the New Testament speaks, I find the Biblical writers go a much different route than saying, “You are a Kanye”. You find Paul saying things like:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.- Ephesians 2:1-3
Paul doesn’t start us off by saying, “You are a son of disobedience,” but instead says that a radical work of grace has been brought about in our heart by the work of God. “…But God” (verse 4). If being a Kanye means being an idolatrous blasphemer, than a Christian is not a Kanye.
Paul wants you to know precisely that you aren’t a Kanye. That’s what grace did. It so far demolished your old identity that it’s fitting and right to see yourself as a son or daughter of the most high God.
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I don’t have to identify myself as being a “Kanye” to have a genuine confession of sin. I can confess my sins while embracing my identity in Christ. John shows us in 1 John 1:8-9:
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Who are the ones confessing sin? None other than the “little children” (John 2:1) that John is writing to. The same people who John says in 1 John 3:1:
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
And so we are. We are not a Kanye. We are children of God.
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Relating to Kanye
How then do we relate to Kanye?
The Gospel frees us from being a Kanye, while promising that even though we often act as if we are a Kanye, the Spirit of God is at work in our hearts to move our affections more completely towards Jesus. The Gospel grounds us in an entirely new identity, washing our sins away and uniting us to Christ at the most profound level of our existence. At the exact same time, the Gospel frees us to confess the reality that our sinfulness is still there; this reality just no longer condemns us. The Gospel, however, doesn’t permit us to redefine ourselves in terms other than our core new identity in Christ.
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Christian, you are not a Kanye- so don’t act like one. Christian, you are not a Kanye- so fearlessly confess your idolatry to the God who transferred you from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son. Since we have all lived our lives as a Kanye, we should be gracious towards unbelievers. Being loved by God while still fighting remaining sin should make us quick to praise God for His justifying grace and hope in His sanctifying grace We should trust the Gospel afresh and look to those who are a Kanye with much pity and mercy, just as God did towards us. The grace of God is how we stand.
Preach the Gospel and God will continue to turn “Kanyes” into sons and daughters God.
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