Kanye and His Mega Visit
While I lived in Houston for two years, I often visited Lakewood Church pastored by Joel Osteen. Having watched it on television, you don't get the full grasp of this mega-church until you walk in. I was always overwhelmed by the number of people in attendance, and how long it took to get out of the parking garage afterwards.
Many celebrities have passed through Lakewood’s doors either as a guest or as a speaker. Tyler Perry, good friend of Osteen’s, shared his testimony and moved the audience with his Climb and Maintain message.
Houston was buzzing yesterday over Kanye West’s appearance at Lakewood Church: a conversation with Joel Osteen during the morning service, as well as an evening concert that had nearly 20,000 in attendance. Free tickets were sold out not even ten minutes after hitting the Internet.
Well, Kanye was late. However, he and his choir put on a 2-hour performance doing a bunch of cover songs – past and present – and remixed some classic songs into gospel songs. Some worked, while others were just off.
For example, the choir covered Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” which was great. But trying to turn SWV’s “Weak” into a gospel song came off really awkward. Being in H-Town, the biggest highlight was when the choir did Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” which worked as a smooth transition into calling God’s name.
The show closed out with “Jesus Walks” and the popular “Closed on Sunday.” With Kim Kardashian and the kids sitting front row, Lakewood gave their stamp of approval.
Okay. I admit that I am one of those people who is still on the fence about the new Kanye. I want to believe in my heart of hearts that Kanye really has been changed. He appears to have the verbiage right, yet his actions aren’t all the way there (selling merch at church, $55 VIP cold breakfast.)
Maybe I am still scathed by Mase. Remember Mase? Rapper Mason Betha, signed with Bad Boy Entertainment, Grammy-nominated, and double-platinum albums.
Well, in 1999 Mase announced he was retiring from music to become an ordained minister. He said that he was leading people down a path to hell. He also said it was time to serve God in “his” way and that he wanted to deal with reality, because the rap game was not real. Sound familiar?
Five years later, Mase returned to rap music and released a new album appropriately called Welcome Back. Even though it was supposed to display his new Christian lifestyle, his actions didn’t exactly match and before long found himself back in the game. Fans lost interest in Mase - most importantly their trust. I was on-board and even bought his book.
I was moved by Mase's story and how he made the brave decision to choose God. But then he got wishywashy; kept one toe in the pool; straddled the fence for too long. It happens but just own up to it and choose a side!!
It's a familiar cycle that we see in the music industry, so we are conditioned to wait for the downfall to happen. We would rather believe that Kanye and Joel are laughing all the way to the bank, as opposed to edifying God's people with an unlikely character. But that's what God does best, right? He uses the unlikely to reach his people in mysterious ways.
It’s a shame that as a society we have become so tainted that we can’t take someone at their word. We doubt and stand ready to point out their mistakes with a “I told you so.” I want Kanye West to succeed and thrive in his new life with Christ. He has the opportunity to reach so many people, including an audience that may not hear about God from anywhere else. I pray that he allows God to order his steps.
Watch the full "Jesus Is King" Sunday Service below (jump to 43:14.)