Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
October 27, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “You Are Loved” by Stars Go Dim which currently sits at #20 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.
Right up front let me just say that this song gets a disapproval not because it’s a “bad song”; rather, because it’s not a Christian one. There is no Law, no Gospel, no acknowledgement of sin or call to repentance. There’s more clear theology in John 3:16 than this entire song… and I don’t quote John 3:16 by itself (at a minimum John 3:16-18, prefer to go all the way to 21).
Stars Go Dim (Audio) Video
Lyrics (via KLove)
You Are Loved
We hide pain in the weirdest places
Broken souls with smiling faces
Fighting for surrender
For now and the after
Just look around and you’ll see that people
Are scared to say how they really feel, oh
We all need a little honesty
You are loved
If your heart’s in a thousand pieces
If you’re lost and you’re far from reason
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, and know you are loved
When it feels like somethings missing
If it hurts but you can’t find healing
Just look up, know you are loved
Just look up, know you are loved. ooh
We’re not made to be superheroes,
Photoshopped, all size zeroes
We’re a light not expected
But not quite perfected yet.
Look up see the sun is shinning
There’s hope on a new horizon
Calling you, calling…
You don’t have to prove yourself
Don’t try to be someone else
Publishing: Word Music, LLC (ASCAP) / Dayspring Music, LLC, Music by Josh Zegan (BMI) / Word Music, LLC, Quick or Die Music (ASCAP) Produced by Casey Brown
Writer(s): Chris Cleveland, Kyle Williams, Josh Zegan, Jeff Sojka
No idea who the target of this song is. Is it the unbeliever? Is that the meaning for “broken souls” here? I don’t think so. I think the artist is trying to set the tone for people with hidden hurts. I don’t think the artist sees a distinction between believer and unbeliever for the purpose of this song. Fighting for surrender sounds like a seeker-sensitive paradigm where the Gospel is out there just waiting for us to “surrender to it”… but we have to choose to surrender and that is somehow a fight within us. That’s not how the Gospel is explained/taught in Scripture. Again, I don’t think the artist is trying to make a theological position in this statement, I think he’s focused on surrendering to the notion that we need to stop hiding our hurts, and we all need a little honesty.
The chorus is an anthem declaring to the listener that he/she is loved. The implied reference is God’s love (Just Look Up). It is true that God loves us, and it is also true that hurting people need to be reminded of His Love. It is also true, that God’s love does us no good if we continue in unbelief.
John 3:16-21 (ESV) | For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
The second verse moves more purposefully into the everything is beautiful direction. The reference to photoshopped images and being a size zero is woefully shallow. Seriously, that’s what the foolish world considers “deep”, demonizing photoshop images and so-called “body shaming”. A Christian artist should be targeting the weightier matters, like sin and Grace, repentance and forgiveness, Law and Gospel. Is it immoral for magazines to treat their layout and even their photos as art projects? No. Though what is photographed is often times immoral (partial nudity to advertise shampoo or lotion? really?), that the photograph gets edited an manipulated afterward isn’t really much of a problem. That society puts so much stock in Glamour magazine and their ilk is a big problem… and the Church isn’t immune, because we’ve become as shallow as the world around us. It is good to be reminded that our perfection will come in the resurrection (not quite perfected yet). I don’t like the seeker-sensitive appeal to “new horizons”, because God the Holy Spirit is here now, drawing us to Christ Jesus now, and we can have assurance based on what He has already said in His Word. Based on what He has already Promised, by Faith we can look forward with hope in the Resurrection that is to come for all who are of faith in Christ Jesus.
The bridge. You don’t have to prove yourself…. true.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Don’t try to be someone else… let’s tap the brakes for a moment. I understand what is being said at the superficial level, don’t waste your life trying to be like the models in the magazines, the actors on the screen, or the person whose life you covet. But there is a deeper sense where this can wind up butting up against the call to repentance.
Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV) | The New Life
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
I don’t think the song scratches very far under the surface, but it bears mentioning that the call to repentance in many real ways is the call to be set apart from our former selves, to become new creatures in Christ Jesus, not by effort, but by His Grace through Faith in the One who is perfecting us. His Grace is freely given, but that doesn’t mean we walk in auto-pilot, the Christian life is the daily putting off of the fleshly, sinful, self in humble repentance and walking by faith according to the Spirit of God that brought us to life in Christ Jesus.
I’m not happy having to disapprove of this song. I like the melody of the song, the arrangement, and the strong vocals. I just don’t see it conveying a Christian message. At best, it conveys a worldly spiritual message of “you are loved”. It carries no more weight than an a pep talk from Oprah, Dr. Phil, or Pharrell Williams. The song isn’t “bad” and it doesn’t blatantly teach false-doctrine, it’s just unprofitable for teaching or evangelism. It is encouraging in the general “you’ve got a friend in me” sense, but there’s no substance to the song. We can do better… we have the Truth of God’s Word and the Only Way to God, Jesus Christ His Son.
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.
In Christ Jesus,