DiM | “Something Beautiful” by Steven Curtis Chapman

Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).

June 02, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Something Beautiful” by Steven Curtis Chapman which currently sits at #18 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.

I love Steven Curtis Chapman’s writing, music, and ministry. I don’t think this is one of his stronger songs. This is a song of encouragement generally based on the idea that for Believers everything that we think is “bad” will be turned into something “good” by God. This is based on a commonly held interpretation of Romans 8:28 that isn’t quite right. We’ll look at that later. There are some generically positive themes in this song, but the details are a little “off”.

Official Pseudo Video

Lyrics (Partial Lyrics from Air1)

Something Beautiful

I see you sitting over there with your head in your hands
And the mess life’s made of your best laid plans
You really want to shake your fist
But you don’t know who to blame
Well, you can blame yourself or the man upstairs
Or the guy on the screen who says he cares
But all the shame and the blame won’t change a thing
What’s done is done
But grace has just begun

And God says
I’m gonna turn it into something different
I’m gonna turn it into something good
I’m gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only I could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only One who can turn it into
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful

We know the world got broke when it took the fall
And here we are living in the middle of it all
Longing, waiting for the day when everything’s restored
But the best of the beauty that we get to SEE
While we’re living down here in this “yet to be”
Is to watch God take the most broken things
And to hear Him say
“When I get through, you’re gonna be amazed”

‘Cause I’m gonna turn it into something different
I’m gonna turn it into something good
I’m gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only I could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only One who can turn it into

Something beautiful
Something beautiful
Something beautiful
Put all the pieces in His hands
And watch Him turn it into something beautiful

God’s gonna turn it into something different
He’s gonna turn it into something good
He’s gonna take all the broken pieces
And make something beautiful like only He could
So put it all in the hands of the Father
Give it up, give it all over to
The only One who can turn it into
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful
Something beautiful
Something really beautiful

Publishing: © 2013 One Blue Petal Music / Primary Wave Brian (BMI) All rights admin. by BMG Rights Management. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Steven Curtis Chapman

I love Steven Curtis Chapman’s writing, music, and ministry. I look forward to hearing a new song from him on the radio. He has a signature style and is easily recognizable. However, the more I listen to this song, the bigger its problems seem. Is I mentioned in the intro to this post, the premise of this song is based on a common misrepresentation of Romans 8:28. Let’s look at it in its immediate context.

CTT | Romans 8:28

Romans 8:18-30 (ESV) | Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

To what is the Apostle Paul referring when he talks of the glory that is to be revealed to us? Is he speaking of glory promised us in this life? No. Paul always points to the Resurrection in the Last Day, when Jesus Christ returns in Glory. Paul points to a creation that is subjected to futility, by the sin of Adam. Though we are individually made new by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, the whole of creation remains cursed. It groans for the day of its redemption, just as we (Believers) groan for the redemption of our bodies, when we will be given new and perfect bodies in the resurrection. This is all resurrection, return-of-the-King language. As long as sickness, death, plague, and calamity exist on this earth, in creation, we remain in the not-yet. Paul is pointing to the New Heavens and the New Earth, when all of Creation is finally made right again in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 21:1-8 (ESV) | The New Heaven and the New Earth

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

This is the “new” and “the good” that God is working all things for those who are in Him. That is the context of Paul’s writing in Romans 8:28. Does God give good gifts to us here in the temporary? Absolutely, but that is not where we lay our hope, and definitely not where we lay up our treasures. Therefore, whenever someone invokes Romans 8:28 as a blank check from God that every disappointment in this life will be converted into something awesome in this life, know that they are lifting the passage out of its context, twisting the scripture (whether or not they realize they are doing it). We have a wondrous and blessed hope of glory in the Resurrection… it is marvelous and magnificent and it is assured for all who are in Christ Jesus. This Promise is sealed by God the Holy Spirit as a gift to every believer. That is why Paul asserts so strongly that the suffering of this present time are worthless by comparison. Paul was well acquainted with suffering as an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Dear Christian, the focus of Scriptures and the heart of Prophecy is Jesus Christ, not us in this temporal life. Jesus is returning, and His return is our Hope.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) | Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Discussion of Song Lyrics

Verse 1. The singer is addressing an individual who has either sinned or experienced hardship or both. It isn’t clear if this is a believer or an unbeliever. We’ll assume for now that Steven intends to address the believer. There is a glaring problem in this verse, though, in how the song deals with ascribing the source of the individual’s problem. Life’s made a mess of your best laid plans? What does that mean? Sin leads to death. Sometimes plans crumble due to sin. Sometimes they crumble because they were sinful in themselves, and sometimes God is the one doing destroying the sinful schemes. As the verse progresses, it seems to lean toward a sin that was committed “you can blame yourselfall the blame and shame won’t change a thing what’s done is done“. What is that? That’s not repentance. At best it is an acceptance that something bad happened, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. Let’s put a sin in there, and see if this logic holds as doctrinally sound. Say the man with his head in his hands has committed adultery and lost his wife and kids as a result. Is there anything he can do to fix any of that or undo any of that? No. Does saying, “I can’t change it, what’s done is done” pass as repentance? No. Does accepting the blame for having committed the adultery fix the marriage after the divorce? No. So, does that make accepting the blame for the sin of adultery a pointless act? Absolutely not. The Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t that the results of our sins will be erased; rather, that the sins will be forgiven for those who rightly confess that they are indeed sinners in need of a Savior, repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. I find this verse overly dismissive of the need to rightly confess our sinfulness. While I believe Steven is trying to convey, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 ESV), you cannot simply skip over confession of sin and repentance from sin and work to alleviate condemnation… because prior to confession, repentance, forgiveness what you are really mitigating is conviction of sin. The purpose of the Law is to identify sin and convict us of our sinfulness. The Law isn’t to be mitigated, its purpose is to push us toward repentance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Only way of Salvation. But in this verse, we minimized personal conviction and are jumping straight to Grace, without repentance. Not good.

Chorus. Does God say that He’s going to take everything we break, every sinful act we’ve committed and turn it into something good? Remember how we discussed the context of Romans 8, Paul is not limiting our Hope to this temporal life. If your sin leads to a wrecked marriage, a wrecked home, there is no guarantee that he’ll take that broken home/marriage and make it into something beautiful in this life. What the Bible does teach, is that for those who are in Him (penitent believers), God will use this life to grow you in Him for His Glory, and in the Resurrection you will definitely be free from all the pain and the hurt caused by sin (by your sin and the sins of this world). In this life, worms and rust will destroy and thieves will steal. Our hope rests in Heaven and the Great Day of Christ’s return. At the end of the chorus, there is a turn in the lyric that is true, and I do want to highlight that. God is the Only One who can turn our lives around, who can forgive our sins, and heal our brokenness. He will DEFINITELY do it when Christ returns, and He does it in many ways, by His Will and His Grace for us in this life, too. He blesses us every day according to His goodness and mercy. Please understand that we do serve a loving, caring, and gracious God. But that isn’t to say that everything will be made new in this life. God is growing us, molding us, and He is willing to use rebuke, reproof, and even hardship to work in us. As a father disciplines his son, so does our Heavenly Father discipline us.

Verse 2. I am disappointed again in the presentation of the sinful state of man. The first 2 lines in this verse present sin as something that happened to the Earth and man just finds himself living in the mess that was made. That is skirting the truth that Adam sinned, and we are born into that sin and bear the guilt of sin. It is our sin. We are simultaneously victim and culprit. We are unholy and unrighteous, deserving of death and destruction for our sin. Creation is cursed because of our sin. But God, in His Great Mercy and Grace, has made a Way for us in the sending of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus, to atone for our sin at the cross, so that by faith we might be made righteous in His Sight, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb, clothed by His righteousness. If we held this verse in isolation from the rest of the song, I think we’ll see a better reflection of Romans 8… we can at least interpret it in the eternal rather than the temporal sense. Still bothered by the deflection of sin at the start.

The rest of the song plays out the “give it all to God and He’ll fix it” theme. As far as this temporal life goes, sometimes what is broken remains broken by His design for our benefit and for His Glory.

Conclusion

In general, the encouragement to take all of our hurts, fears, tears, sins, and failures to God the Father is true. The suggestion that God will fix everything we break in this life isn’t Scriptural. The fix would be to maintain a heavenly focus, a focus on the Great Day of the Resurrection in Christ Jesus. We need to be presented with the reality that sometimes our best-laid plans were sinful, and that God is the one who destroyed them. This song doesn’t leave room for that as it presents a sort of guarantee that whatever mess “life” has made for you, God will turn it into something beautiful. Vaguely positive, but problematic in its detail. While every good gift in this life and the next come from God, that doesn’t mean we can expect every good gift in this life. God is Sovereign and He is working to build up His Church for His Glory. We will face trials of many kinds, both from the enemy and from our own sinful flesh. We will also be disciplined by a loving Father, and the goal is repentance from a humble spirit and a contrite heart. All of creation indeed groans and awaits the return of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ. In the meantime, we walk this earth in exile (as the Apostle Peter called in 1 Peter 1), no longer a part of the kingdom of darkness, not yet given our heavenly bodies. We walk by faith, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, worshiping a Living God and serving our neighbors.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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