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Kanye West At The 2009 Tribeca Film Festival

Yeezus Christ: 3 Scary Ways I Become My Own Great God

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Kanye West is no stranger to controversy. He has been praised for his creativity by some and reprimanded for his immaturity by others (like that one time he flipped out during a radio interview with Sway). Someone, however, might have taken their devotion to Kanye a little too far.

Earlier this month, there was an article with the headline “TheBookofYeezus.” I took a closer look and found this:

A novelty Bible honoring rap artist, Kanye West, has been removed from a popular website in the wake of growing complaints. It is unclear whether or not the book is a hoax.

The Book of Yeezus, which is a nod to West’s sixth studio album, is said to be a “Bible for the modern day” as it replaces every mention of God in the book of Genesis with the rapper’s name. The text is still mostly the same as it appears in the first book of the Old Testament, but the word “God” is removed and the name “Kanye” is repeatedly used instead.

“In the beginning Kanye created the heaven and the earth… And Kanye said, Let there be light: and there was light,” the text reads.

Obviously, this didn’t go over very well on social media. The response was overwhelmingly negative with many people expressing concern that the book was “blasphemous.” Others thought it must have been a joke or a hoax.

I got to thinking about it and the thought came to me: “None of us are really above this type of self-exaltation.”

Whether Kanye knew about this idea or whether it was an admirer with a creepy devotion is not the point. The larger point is that we all have the tendency to make a god in our own image and put our names in the place of God’s if left to ourselves.

At its core, sin leads us to exalt ourselves before God (and others) positionally, relationally, and sacrificially. Consider how the first three sins, chronologically speaking, happened:

Lucifer (Isaiah 14:13-14)

“But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north… ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”

Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5-6)

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Cain (Genesis 4:3-5; 8)
In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast…Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

Position

In the first sin, Lucifer wanted the power and prestige of deity and wanted something that wasn’t his to begin with.

Relation

The second sin was when the Serpent cast doubt on God’s intentions and convinced Adam and Eve that God didn’t really have their best interest in mind; he was holding something back on them. So their actions were fueled by a backdrop of suspicion and distrust.

Sacrifice

The third chronological sin was a murder that happened because Cain was upset that God didn’t accept his offering while accepting Abel’s. This final example is one that deals with the fundamental principle of worship: will I give all of me in response to God, or will I only give what and when is convenient. Abel had to kill one of his lambs in order to present his sacrifice, while Cain offered up the best fruits of his labors. While what Cain gave wasn’t bad in itself, it really represented a works-based form of worship because he showed up with something that required little sacrifice, unlike the killing of a lamb.

So, Cain killed his brother because he was upset that God wouldn’t accept his works as good enough.

In each of these examples, we see three different aspects of the common virus that has infected the Universe. At its core, sin is a heart issue more than anything else. It tends to make us lust after things that aren’t ours, makes us think that no one really has our backs and we have to look out for ourselves, and think that our own good deeds or efforts should be enough to earn God’s favor.

My Own Personal God

Worse still is that we’ll kill to get what we want, or if the outcome isn’t what we expected… especially when it comes to defending our form of worship (in the Cain and Abel case)

TheBookofYeezus could easily be TheBookof(YourNameHere) because, at its core, sin leads us to put ourselves at the center of the Universe.

This is all exacerbated by the world we live in today. While it has a lot of benefits, our media-focused culture of selfies, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook has been great at bringing this to the surface.

Of course, this doesn’t stop once we come into faith. Even on this point, if we ever stop learning or think we have come to the end of our understanding of God, we can even create a personal idol based on our own partial or limited understanding of who God is. Eugene Peterson described what can happen in his book Answering God:

 Left to ourselves, we will pray to some god who speaks what we like hearing, or to the part of God we manage to understand. But what is critical is that we speak to the God who speaks to us…there is a difference between praying to an unknown God whom we hope to discover in our praying, and praying to a known God, reveled through Israel and Jesus Christ, who speaks our language. In the first, we indulge our appetite for religious fulfillment; in the second we practice obedient faith. The first is a lot more fun, the second is a lot more important. [5-6]

When we overemphasize God’s power over love or vice-versa, we open the door to either a view of God that sees him as a totalitarian, legalistic dictator, or nothing more than a senile grandfather figure who has general goodwill upon everybody.

When we exalt one over another and stop growing in our understanding of Him, we can, as Tim Keller says in his book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God:

Left to ourselves, our hearts will tend to create a god who doesn’t exist. People from Western cultures want a God who is loving and forgiving but not holy and transcendent. Studies of the spiritual lives of young adults in Western countries reveal that their prayers, therefore, are generally devoid of both repentance and the joy of being forgiven. Without prayer that answers to the God of the Bible, we may be responding not to the real God, but to what we wish God and life to be like. [62]

We must not delude ourselves into thinking that blasphemy happens in the “secular world.” God invites us to lay all of our glory at the foot of the Cross and recognize that we were meant for so much more than to worship the feat of our own accomplishments by becoming our own gods and saviors.

Photo Credit: Kanye West via Google Images (Labeled for Noncommercial Reuse)

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Nelson Fernandez

Nelson serves as a pastor in a growing in a bilingual and multicultural church district in Greenville, South Carolina in the Carolina Conference. He is married to the love of his life Sarah, who is Venezuelan and American. Born and raised in Miami, FL, he is a second-generation Hispanic of Dominican-Salvadorian decent. He loves reading, learning and blogging about leadership, church growth, discipleship and practical Christianity at www.nelsonsblog.com

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