Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
February 24, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Beyond Me” by TobyMac which currently sits at #11 at 20theCountdownMagazine.
We’ll continue using this top 20 song list until I find a better list. Your feedback in this would be greatly appreciated.
TobyMac has been in the business for a long time. He’s quite the innovator when it comes to the Christian music scene. He’s been very successful with the youth of late. What we see in this song is prosperity/overcomer theology in quasi-humble language. In fact, it seems to play on the same sort of self-indulgent theme found in Hillsong’s Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). The song has no value, it’s just empty self-esteem talk disguised as a prayer of humility.
VEVO Lyric Video
Lyrics (via K-Love)
The one redeeming quality in this song is that it acknowledges somewhat the hard truth that God will take us to the place where we know we need Him. However, the song puts it in the wrong place. The song seems to presuppose that wherever we are now, as Christians, is a place of safety and comfort, but God is going to take us to a place where we’ll need Him. Nope. Where we are, right now, in our sin and transgressions, is where we need Him. How did Jesus teach His disciples to pray?
Luke 11:1-4 (ESV) | The Lord’s Prayer
11 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
We also find in James a strong warning to the Church regarding worldliness:
James 4:1-10 (ESV) | Warning Against Worldliness
4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
We do need God in every day and in every way imaginable. So how does He take us to a place where we acknowledge this need? By His Word, particularly the Law.
Galatians 3:15-22 (ESV) | The Law and the Promise
15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
So, then, the Law convicts us of our sin and our wholesale dependence upon God’s mercy and Grace. Once the Holy Spirit grants us faith, by the hearing of the Word of God, we are brought to repentance at the foot of the cross and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Unless your physical body dies in that moment, your fallen flesh will continue living and desiring sin waging war against the Spirit. Such is the temporal existence for those who have been redeemed by faith in Jesus Christ. We won’t graduate from this until the Resurrection. We must daily seek His forgiveness in humble repentance. We need Him, for apart from Him we can do nothing.
As usual, we see no reference to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No repentance, no forgiveness, just empty promises. This isn’t an attack on TobyMac for having an empty song as much as it is on the Evangelical community that eats this stuff up propelling it to the Top 20. We’ve become theologically diabetic, and it’s killing the Church, particularly our youth.
The song starts in a bad place. Rather than address the substance of the singer’s dreams and aspirations, it just assumes that these dreams were God-given. It then springboards from that presupposition to justifying “dreaming big” as a clear sign that God wants him to know he needs God. Is that supported in Scripture? No. We aren’t promised individual greatness or individual “potential”… we are promised a Savior, Jesus Christ.
The message of the Gospel is indeed that righteousness is “way beyond me”. That’s why He gave us His Son, the Lamb of God. The message of this song is skewed to suggest that God’s plan for our lives (our dreams) are way beyond me but He’s gonna make it happen. Well, what if greatness isn’t in God’s plan for our lives? The post-modern answer would be to simply redefine “greatness”. That’s ridiculous. The problem isn’t in the definition of “greatness” it is in the perspective of the song and the theology that is driving it.
The song is just a self-esteem, dream big, purpose driven, seeker hook. I used to follow the TobyMac Facebook page, but had to stop because of the routine sharing of false memes like this one. TobyMac is running a very successful musical enterprise; however, this song has questionable theological underpinnings. The seeker-sensitive prosperity or purpose-driven versions of the Gospel are false Gospels. Toby has been involved in a lot of good work over the years, and I do not question his sincerity in ministry. I pray he isn’t swept away in the seeker-mergent sludge being passed off as Christianity these days.
Romans 15:13 (ESV) 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
To God be the glory, Amen.
In Christ Jesus,