Yesterday, Kanye West’s latest album Yeezus dropped with the third track titled, “I Am A God (Feat. God).” The song has already sparked reaction and has been likened to John Lennon’s remarks about the Beatles’ being “more popular than Jesus.” But maybe Kanye’s song is something we identify with more than we’d like to admit?
There are times when our culture presents to us controversial statements and issues which cause us to respond with a sense of urgency. We instinctively know that what is being communicated is wrong and therefore we become anxious to make our (presumably right) perspective known. In the case of Kanye West’s new song “I Am a God,” the immediate reaction from the Christian community is to get offended and defensive.
Kanye’s worldview quickly reveals itself with ridiculous lines like:
I’m not the most high,
but I’m a close high.
Wait, did Kanye just compare himself to God? Yes, he did! He draws this conclusion based on his genuine power and influence in the culture. It’s not only what he is saying that offends us, but it’s also the platform from which he says it. The size of his soapbox makes the sting of his statements all the more severe.
Issues of the heart
As we survey the culture and pass judgment, it is easy to bypass the issues of our own hearts (Jer. 17:9). The things in the culture that offend us most can often act as a mirror into our own souls. As Kanye presents himself as a “god” in his lyrics, we do the same in our thoughts and with our actions, desiring to be a god over our own little kingdoms. How many times have we esteemed ourselves more than our brothers? How many times do we exploit our position of influence for our own benefit? Even good theology can become a point of arrogance when we lord our understanding over our weaker brothers. As we praise God for his grace, we conveniently find ways to give the credit back to ourselves. We compare our achievements to others and pat ourselves on the back for all our accomplishments. The heart of the issue is a desire to be bigger, better, and more known than all the people around us—including God (Rom. 1:18–23).
The things in the culture that offend us most can often act as a mirror into our own souls.
In this way, we sing the same song as Kanye. His lyrics reflect back the reality of our sin. We share the same sin and contribute our own verse of self-exaltation to Kanye’s song. We all, whether we acknowledge it or not, are contributors to this track, which is the soundtrack to our lives. And rather than peering into culture and placing ourselves above it, we must take this opportunity to see ourselves as a Kanye. We must repent of our own idolatry and look to the one who truly sits high above the heavens on his eternal throne.
We are not a “god”
The truth is we are not a god. We are creatures made by the one true God. We have been made to reflect him, not be him.
But what is God like?
Consider the life of Jesus and the characteristics he displayed as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). Being all-powerful and worthy of all praise, he emptied himself and became the suffering servant to fill our greatest need (Phil. 2:5–8).
When you think about power and influence, consider God, who created the entire universe, including the very voice box of Kanye. He lowered himself by becoming a man and dwelt among us in humility. He came to serve, not to be served (Matt. 20:28). The bread of life did not come “demanding croissants” but rather offered himself as a sacrifice for others. He demonstrated compassion toward us by taking upon himself the judgment that we deserved because of our sin and our claim to be our own god.
So when the radio plays “I Am A God” fifty times a day, remember your idolatry. Remember we are a Kanye, and remember the length to which God went to save us from our sin