Kanye West just released his highly anticipated album Yeezus this past week, and what more can I say–he’s still rapping about money, women, and excess. However, unlike the tracks on previous albums that dressed this depravity in the bright sounds of the big brass band, the crooning of R&B featured artists, and the throwback of old Gospel samples, this album is completely stripped. All that remains is empty beats and harsh riffs, which honestly match the darkness of his lyrical content much better than any other album. He has stopped prettying up and started being real. The irony is gone; no more of the Kanye with catchy hits about drugs, money, and sex–it’s all about the Kanye with harshly abrasive songs about drugs, money, and sex.
Amidst all of this, West has the audacity to title his album Yeezus. If you miss the allusion because of the spelling, West is continuing the messiah motif that he weaves through everything he makes. On his track “I Am a God” he actually lists God as a featured artist. The whole irony of the situation, in my mind–and in his, I believe, also–is the fact that West represents everything morally opposite of Jesus. If Jesus is the Christ, then Yeezus is the anti-…well, you know where that was headed (it was a softball, I had to swing). His self-proclaimed messianic status in hip-hop and culture at large has been a recurring element in his music since his beginning.
But…why waste blog time on a knucklehead like West? Well, I think we all need to realize we all have a little Yeezus in us. By that I mean we each struggle with a messiah complex. It’s that unspoken assumption that we are the savior. It’s that feeling that starts welling up in you when someone else explains to you a struggle or problem of theirs. It’s that voice inside your head that says, “I can fix that. If only I was living their life I would fix all of their problems!” Pastors struggle with this possibly more than anyone else. We feel like no one’s situation, struggle, sin, whatever, will improve until we get involved. Every church member needs our assistance and personal step-by-step instructions to overcome their problems.
Ultimately, the messiah complex stems from a sin as old as time: Pride. When we are blinded by our pride we see everyone else as people in need of me. “They need me. They need my help. They need my advice,” we tell ourselves. “I can save everyone!”
I think we all see the flaw in this way of thinking when we put it in these terms. When the Yeezus of Pride rears its ugly head, we try to become the messiah, and we forget that we ourselves needed and still need a Messiah. You couldn’t save yourself, so why do you think you can save others? The job of the Christian, the job of the pastor, the job of a brother or sister is not to assert yourself into every situation so that you can save the day. Your job is to point your fellow believers to Jesus, the true Messiah.
Don’t succumb to the Yeezus mentality. You are not the culture’s savior; you are not your church’s savior; you are not your friend’s savior; heck, you are not even your own savior. The exhortation of James 5:16 to “confess your sins to one another” is one of the best ways to remind yourself and others that you are not the sinless Savior: Jesus is. Confession, the humble kind–not the proud unrepentant kind found all over Kanye’s album–was meant for our continued salvation, growth, and maturity. Don’t be afraid to show others there is a Yeezus that you and the Holy Spirit are still fighting to put to death every day. There is only one Messiah. His name is Jesus.