Imagine being someone some two thousand years ago watching Saul of Tarsus give the nod for Stephen’s execution, then proceeding to play at being a human coatrack for those who did the wicked deed.
Imagine you were just another face in the crowd, taking in the details, seeing as the mob deferred to this one man, waiting for his consent before they picked up rocks and hurled them at a kneeling figure with all the force zeal and rage could muster. Since human nature remains unchanged from millennia to millennia, I’m also certain there were murmurs and whispers in the crowd as to how Stephen did not deserve to die this way and how this Saul was on a murderous quest to rid the world of Christ-followers. Now fast forward a few years, and once more you find yourself in a crowd, this time not to witness an execution but to hear someone preach. It has been whispered that this preacher was well versed in the law, well-spoken, and you were just curious to see what he had to say. You push your way through the crowd to get a better look, and then you see that face; that face that was etched into your mind’s eye, and for an instant, your heart stops beating in your chest. What is the meaning of this? This man is no preacher; he is no convert; he is no follower of the way. He is Saul of Tarsus, hater of Christians, and hunter of the righteous. Sure, Jesus saves, sure Jesus transforms, but there has to be a limit, doesn’t there? I mean, Saul? Saul? Nope, I don’t believe it! I don’t have to listen to what he has to say; it’s just not possible! And that’s how some people are reacting to news that Kanye West has been found, and that the love of Christ has overcome him. I’ve debated whether or not to share my thoughts on this, because, for some unexplained reason, one man’s conversion is controversial to the point of contention. This morning’s e-mail on the topic was one e-mail too many, so here goes: The lost are lost until they are found! There are no degrees of being lost; there’s just lost. God sent Jesus that whosoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life. Perhaps another translation might include the addendum, but my Bible doesn’t say except for Kanye West. Unless I missed the memo, none of us have been appointed as heaven’s gatekeepers, nor is it up to us to decide who is worthy of passing through the pearly gates, and who isn’t. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and that includes me, and you, and every gatekeeper pretending to have the skeleton key to heaven’s gate. Unlike so many who have outright denounced this man’s conversion, I’ve taken the time to listen to a couple of interviews he has given post rebirth, as well as his new album. What I’ve come away with is the impression of someone at their first love, excited, and zealous about doing something, anything to be of service to Christ. Unlike most Christian music today, there is no ambiguity in his lyrics. You don’t sit there and wonder if he is singing about a love interest, a hot date, a fantasy, or Jesus. He mentions Jesus more times in a thirty-minute album than Joel Osteen does in a four-hundred-page tome about being your best self, and unabashedly calls himself a follower of Christ, aware of the slings and arrows he is sure to suffer for it. My concern isn’t whether or not this was a true conversion. My concern is that the wolves will attempt to exploit him, and those in a position to offer discipleship and spiritual wisdom are too busy being sanctimonious and self-righteous, forgetting from whence they came, and how they too were transformed by the saving power of Christ.
God help us if we are the reason someone fails to walk in the fullness of Christ because we’ve concluded that they are the exception; that they are the one person Jesus can’t transform.
With love in Christ,
Posted on 28 October 2019 | 1:59 pm