DiM | “Always Been About You” Fellowship Creative

Presentation1As I continue working out a blog schedule here at Faithful Stewardship, I heard a song on the radio this morning that I found rather catchy. I realized it had been a while since we last practiced discernment in music that gets airplay on Christian radio. So, I think a good topic for Tuesday posts will be a music review that we will call “Discernment in Music”. Some common reactions to my music reviews take the form of , “you’re really over-thinking these things…” or “you can’t restrict artists to only writes songs you approve of” or “you have a critical spirit”. Understand that this is an exercise in taking every thought captive… every…. thought. I don’t expect everyone to agree with my assessments, or to like them. If I’ve at least caused you to exercise discernment while listening to music, I’ve done my job.

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The song I heard this morning that caught my attention was “Always Been About You” by Fellowship Creative. If you listen to popular Christian radio, you’ve probably heard it recently. If your radio station hasn’t played it yet, there’s a good chance they will later (unless they’ve made a stance against certain ministries). Let’s take a look at the lyrics of the song pulled from the band’s website.

Always Been About You

Out here, the greatest love is bold
Out here, the greyest skies are gold
Out here, it’s all laid on the line
Out here, you’re always on my mind

And it’s always been about love
It’s always been about grace
It’s always been about hope
And it’s always been about faith 

It’s always been about peace
It’s always been about truth
Everything that’s ever been before
It’s always been about You

Out here, we’re running with the light
Out here, we’re breaking up the night
Out here, the lost are coming home
Cause out here, no one goes alone

And it’s always been about love
It’s always been about grace
It’s always been about hope
And it’s always been about faith 

It’s always been about peace
It’s always been about truth
Oh and everything that’s ever been
It’s always been about You

We will run for you
We will go for you
We will fight for you, you

We will run, we will run
We will go, we will go
We will fight, we will fight
With everything, everything

And it’s always been about love
It’s always been about grace
It’s always been about hope
And it’s always been about faith

It’s always been about peace
It’s always been about truth
Oh and everything that’s ever been
It’s always been about You

Now, as I said this song was very catchy. It is sung and performed extremely well. Great buildup of instruments, great backup accompaniment, just very well done. Now, the first verse starts off, well… oddly. I have no idea what “Out here” signifies. No clue. I was hoping the song would resolve it later, but it doesn’t really make it clear. I do have a thought about what this means, but we’ll save that for later, because I draw that opinion from outside the song. The chorus is very fun, and quite catchy. The idea that “it’s always been about love, grace, hope, faith, peace, and truth” is awesome and easily draws an “Amen”. The final “You” is assumed to be God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Some Scriptures that immediately come to mind during the chorus are as follows:

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Galatians 3:7-9 (ESV)
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (ESV)
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

John 14:6 (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The chorus of this song is chock full of Gospel nuggets. As the music played, my mind raced through all of the wonderful passages Gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in Scripture, and it put a smile on my face. As the song broke down into the bridge, I started to notice the song was a little unbalanced. If we will run for you, are we running for God (“you” is never clearly defined) or are we running for our brothers and sisters (“out here, no one runs alone”)? If we are fighting for “you”, what are we fighting against? By what means?

If this were a sermon, this would be an example of attempting to preach pure Gospel, while skipping over and avoiding Law. You see, until we come to grips with the reality of sin in our lives, and the debt that we cannot pay on our own, the Gospel rings hollow. This is why I’m not a big fan of the feel-good, “Just ask Jesus into your heart”. Instead, I believe it best to follow Peter’s answer after his first sermon (where he preached both the Law and the Prophets concerning Christ) in Acts 2:

Acts 2:37-41 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

You see, you cannot simply skip over sin and repentance. It has indeed always been about God, but before there was grace, there was Holiness. Adam was to obey. He sinned, and God’s Grace immediately took action, as He promised to send the Messiah to redeem His creation.

This song is not a sermon. If you were attending a concert, you’d be hearing several songs. In the context of a performance, depending on when this song was sung, another song might be dedicated to preaching the Law (calling out sin and the need for repentance). On the radio, you’ll hear this song on its own. By itself, it’s a really catching “positive” message in vague language.

Where is “Out Here”?

The Fellowship Creative is a band that serves as the praise and worship team for Fellowship Church, a seeker-sensitive Mega-church led by Ed Young. Fellowship Creative is to Fellowship Church what Jesus Culture is to Bethel Church. I mention this because it serves as a warning flag. In the vagueness of the lyrics, knowing the theology behind it is necessary for Biblical discernment. As for the “Out Here”, I believe it references their church, and their way of approaching church (seeker-sensitive). I believe it to be intended as an anthem for the seeker-sensitive model of church, where the goal of the actual church meeting is to attract non-believers into the building in hopes that they will embrace the message of Christ (while they skip/gloss over tough topics like sin and repentance). Now, if you are unfamiliar with Ed Young or the seeker-sensitive movement, I can understand if you think I’m “reading too much into things”. While looking through their YouTube channel, they had a video of themselves performing this song at the C3 conference in 2013 (C3 should serve as a warning flag, too).

No doubt an incredible performance and light show. I’ll admit, I thought “that’s cool” when I realized the band was up above the stage light screens. Such a grand display is great for entertaining the world. It’s what they do for each other and for themselves. However, when you take a vague song emphasizing a positive-only Gospel (no sin, no repentance) and wrap it in worldly showmanship, what you get is a great song that might as well have been a cooking recipe. The world often talks/sings about and extols love, peace, and a generic concept of “God”. But they don’t agree with the Biblical definitions of each. They don’t even accept the notion of absolute truth.

Do they have any good songs?

Yes. I quickly found a song on their most recent album that I liked lyrically. We still don’t have a clear picture of the sinful state of man and his need for a Savior, but at least we get more specific on what Jesus did for us.

The One I Need
This world, this beautiful world
Is still not enough for me; it’s not my home
Instead I fix my eyes on the Maker of earth and skies
My Savior, who came and died and rose for me

And I will give my heart to the One who took my place
And I will lift my voice to the Name above all names

Jesus, Lord of Heaven
I give my life to thee
All else, I surrender
You are the One, the One I need

My God, let nothing eclipse my view
Cause nothing compares to you; You’re all I need
At the cross, Your love rained over me
You’re more than enough for me; Jesus, you’re enough

And I will give my heart to the One who took my place
And I will lift my voice to the Name above all names

Jesus, Lord of Heaven
I give my life to thee
All else, I surrender
You are the One, the One I need

And I will give my heart to the One who took my place
And I will lift my voice to the Name above all names

Jesus, Lord of Heaven
I give my life to thee
All else, I surrender
You are the One, the One I need

Jesus, Son of Heaven
You left your throne for me
Forever, I will follow
You are the One, the One I need

Conclusion

This is a seeker-sensitive church band. They represent a brand, a theology, a way of doing church that isn’t prescribed in Scripture. So, when we listen to their music, we ought to pay close attention to what is actually being sung. We must take every thought captive, and that isn’t limited to the obviously sinful thoughts. Every. Thought. For Christians who are grounded in the Bible and have studied what the Bible says about sin, repentance, forgiveness, holiness, grace, love, mercy… this song can serve as a pleasant reminder of scripture. But so can any song on the radio that mentions faith, love, truth, grace. The sad part is that for an organization that calls itself the church and prides itself on reaching the lost… the song teaches nothing. It presents a half-gospel, one that implores the unbeliever to “accept Jesus” without acknowledging and repenting from their sin. That’s great for church attendance, in the short run, but it does the individual no good to only hear half of the Gospel. As with all musical artists, there are some songs that are good, others that are not so good. My concern isn’t really them, but you and your walk in Christ.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ,
Jorge

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