Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)).
December 01, 2015. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Be One” by Natalie Grant which currently sits at #15 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.
While we kept this song in the “middle ground” today, it could just as easily have earned a disapproval. The Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) Industry is very excited about Natalie Grant’s new album. Releasing this single just before the Christmas season is a smart marketing move. She’s been on morning talk shows and performed this first single a few times on TV (I saw the one on Fox and Friends). It’s a Law-heavy song urging the listener to good works. For any good to come from this song, we must do the work of reminding ourselves and others of the Gospel and Christ’s work in us that produces good works the song is calling for, and we also need to address some of the wording. I simply ask you , the reader/listener, to do the work of a Berean in this case and decide for yourselves.
Natlie Grant Official Lyric Video
Lyrics (via KLove)
We don’t feel ready, we don’t feel steady
Question what we really have to give
Stay where it’s safer, claim faith but waiver
Is this how we’re really meant to live
We pray but never move
We say but never do
It’s time to get our hands dirty
oh oh, oh oh
Be love – there’s a whole lot of hurting
oh oh, oh oh
Calling all hearts, Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
When we can be one, When we can be one , When we can be one
A little somethin’ might feel like nothin’
But in His hands it’s all we’ll ever need
To speak life to the broken
Watch the blind eyes open
It’s who He’s calling you and me to be
We can be the change – be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are we are where it starts
We can be the light in the dark
We can be the arms that don’t let go
Publishing: © 2015 SeeSeeBubba Songs (SESAC) (admin. by Music Services)/ Maxx Melodies (SESAC)/BMG Platinum Songs (BMI)/Takin It To The Maxx (BMI) All Rights Administered By BMG Rights Management (US) LLC/ WB Music Corp./ Thankful for This Music (ASCAP) All rights admin. by WB Music Corp. (ASCAP) All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Writer(s): Natalie Grant / Sam Mizell / Becca Mizell / Emily Weisband
The resounding theme of this song is be a miracle for someone else. Let’s start today’s discussion by first acknowledging the ways this song can be good. Our first challenge will be to reshape the notion of “being a miracle for someone else” into something more Biblically sound. Let’s look at how Jesus summarized the Law.
Matthew 22:36-40 (ESV)
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
So, the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. This song is an attempt to call the listener to keep this commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is a good call, for it is Lawful. It is indeed a good work to love our neighbor as ourselves… the only problem is that we fail this commandment continuously. For this song to have stood on its own, it needed a clear reminder of the greatest commandment and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Okay, so we’ll address some problems in the target audience of this song in a minute, but for now let’s assume the intended audience is professing Christians. One could connect the thrust of this song to the Epistle of James.
James 1:16-27 (ESV) | Hearing and Doing the Word
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
James 2:1-17 (ESV) | The Sin of Partiality
2 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Faith Without Works Is Dead
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Now we need to address where the song falls short. Notice that the focus of Jame’s writing is on the faith of the reader. Is James talking about creating a cascade of miracles throughout society? No. He’s saying that a genuine faith will produce works… the faith will produce works. If it doesn’t, whatever faith is being claimed is a dead one. The core of the problem of a lack of works isn’t effort, it’s faith. James rebukes the sin of showing partiality within the body of Christ, and then he makes the case that a genuine, saving faith will produce good works. James goes on to warn us to control our tongues and to avoid worldliness. He doesn’t come back around to any notion of being a miracle for other people in order to shore up your faith… because that would be works-based righteousness, which is NOT in keeping with the Gospel of Grace.
The biggest problem with this song is that anyone could meet the call of the song (on occasion) without having any positive impact on their faith or in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every false religion teaches a works-based righteousness, and most of them push something akin to the good works being promoted in this song… the idea of being the miracle for someone else. Even atheist humanism preaches this sort of good work, while denouncing those who sit around and wait for a miracle to come. This song isn’t pointing to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, it is pointing to the listener saying “be a miracle”… “do something good”. Frankly, I debated disapproving the song because of this… and my only rational for not doing it is because I could see the attempt at echoing the Epistle of James in the song, though it didn’t quite make it.
Another problem with this song is the odd call to be a miracle for someone else. God isn’t calling you to be a miracle, but to be a neighbor. The idea of being a miracle is doing something out of the ordinary, something supernatural, but that simply isn’t our charge nor calling. We are called to be set apart by the Spirit of God, and to love and forgiven our neighbors as Christ first loved and forgave us. I’m so sick of the purpose-driven, prosperity drivel that denigrates everyday living and serving our neighbors in our mundane jobs as something “less than”… God’s word tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not “be their savior”. You don’t have to be a super star, or do something really big… love your neighbor as yourself. Sure, there are times when God places a need before us that calls for something big, but His desire is that we love our neighbor in between those big events, too. Instead of waiting for an opportunity to give your neighbor a car or a kidney… begin by extending grace, a word of comfort, and encouragement, or forgiveness. Our good works must point others to the Grace of God… for the moment it points to ourselves it ceases being a good work.
Dear Christian, you were called to repentance and forgiveness by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He loved you, He lived a perfect life where you could not, He gave His Life to pay the price for you that you couldn’t pay, and He rose again so that in Him you might have everlasting Life. It’s Christ’s work for you and in you and through you. Place your faith and trust in Him, and love others as you have been loved by Him, forgive others as you have been forgiven by Him. God isn’t asking you to be a miracle for someone else, He’s asking you to share the good news of the miracle of Salvation with your neighbor… preach the Gospel, love your neighbor, repent and be forgiven in Jesus’ Name.
Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) | By Grace Through Faith
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
In Christ Jesus,