DiM | “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli

Presentation1CCM Radio Edition.

March 7, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli which currently sits at #19 on the 20theCountdownMagazine.

In my opinion this is the best song by Francesca Battistelli we’ve reviewed, and it is so close to being a phenomenal song. I really like this song, though there are some key omissions in the lyrics that make it fall below our standard for Approval. This song represents the problem of dealing with the cognitive dissonance that the modern evangelical wrestles with and is so close to providing the answer… so close to granting the rest that the modern evangelical desperately longs to find. The song misses but it is starting to ask the right questions.

Francesca Battisteli Official Audio

 

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I’m a mess and so are you
We’ve built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It’s what we need to be

Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine
‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy’s waiting on the other side
If we’re honest
If we’re honest

Songwriters: REED, MOLLY E. / BATTISTELLI, FRANCESCA / PARDO, JEFF
Published by Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Discussion

Artist Backstory? Before I share my thoughts on this song, I wanted to take a shot at finding an interview somewhere that maybe had Francesca Battistelli’s take on the story behind the song. This is the title-track of her latest album, so most of this interview is covering the album, but here is a portion where she talks about this song:

SAM: With this album, If We’re Honest, is there a big idea or a key message running across the whole record?

FRANCESCA: Y’know I think honesty and vulnerability. There’s a lot in this record that came from my life, and I think there’s just a deeper spiritual sense to this record. I think I’m talking about some things that I haven’t talked about before. If We’re Honest is the title track, and the theme of that song which ties in with the record is that God has called us to live lives of authenticity. I think that means that in a culture that says: ‘Crop the perfect picture of yourself, put a nice filter on it, send it out to the world and let people think that’s who you are,’ God has called us to be raw and be real. We should be able to come to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ and say: ‘This is what I’m going through. This is what I’m struggling with. This is what I need prayer for, or help with.’ It’s so hard for us to do that in this culture, and I think God is really calling us to go back to that basic… He created us to live in community with each other. He created us to need each other. To be his hands and feet on this earth. So I really wrote it as a challenge to myself, to get outside of myself. To challenge me to know that the things I was saying and the things I was talking about on stage and singing, and who I was when I was offstage, it’s all the same. There wasn’t a facade being put up. I think the vulnerability on these songs shows up. So I would say honesty is the theme of the record.

SAM: Yeah, that definitely comes across as I listen to it, and I’m sure that your fans as they listen will be encouraged to be honest as well in their lives too.

FRANCESCA: I hope so! That’s the goal.

Overall Thoughts. I was surprised to see Francesca answer in such a broad sense given that my first impression of the song, as-written, was that it held a more intimate meaning… like between a husband and wife who are struggling with secret sins that were destroying their marriage. That’s what jumps out at me with the chorus of the song, an appeal for mutual brokenness and confession. While that was my initial read on the song, I was going to suggest we suspend that for a moment while we try to rescue it a bit with some clear doctrine, and then see how it works within the narrow sense of a marriage.

Overall there are some solid thoughts captured in the lyric of this song: each of us is a mess, each of us is broken, and failure to acknowledge this truth is a failure to be honest… because we know we’re broken. We know it in the Romans 1 sense where the world knows there is a God and it hates Him. The most powerful statement in this song is coded, unfortunately: There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross, at the cross. That’s so close to being the Gospel… but what does it mean to lay our secrets down at the cross? How is this something I do? Why is it so hard to sing the words “repent and be forgiven of your sins in Jesus’ Name?” So close. I think now we need to discuss cognitive dissonance a bit.

Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc. For example, when people smoke (behavior) and they know that smoking causes cancer (cognition). [source]

Modern-Day Evangelicalism holds to a man-centered definition of justification / sanctification  while giving lip service to salvation by grace through faith alone. Most of this can be traced by to the earliest church-isms of the settling of the New World. Methodism and Pietism play a major role in this forming of “American” Christianity…. but in many ways it is a return to the synergism of the Roman Catholic Church to varying degrees. Sure, they’ve dropped the Pope, but they haven’t dropped the notion that says “God did His part, but I have to do my part or else God can’t work in my life”.  So we insist that man has a free will (from birth) and that God has made a way of salvation that few will find, but if you search for it with all your heart you will find it and be made a new creature, freed from sin… and because we “bowed our heads” and “said a prayer” (Finneyism) we can now declare and decree that we are new creatures… but that was only the first step of “getting saved”. Now we have to do our part to “demonstrate our faith” is genuine, we must progress in doing good and resisting evil. That’s what evangelicalism preaches… and pushes… and advises… keep progressing, know these fundamentals… if you’ll just do these things you’ll overcome that sin… and we raise our hands, we walk down the isle, kneel at the “altar” and sob, trying with every ounce of strength we can muster to “lay our sins down at the cross”  hoping that this time… THIS TIME… we’ll mean it, it will be real, we will be set free from this besetting sin because we truly meant it… THIS time. But when we’ve left the “revival” meeting… and we find ourselves at work, or all alone… if we’re honest… we know we are still sinners. We doubt whether or not we’ll fall again… we doubt whether or not God truly loves us… given enough time and hardship… we’ll even doubt whether or not God died for us.

Incidentally… this isn’t the result of poll research or anything… this is me. At a very low point, I remember admitting to someone that I have no problem sharing the “promises of God” for everyone else… but He didn’t have those good things set out for me. I didn’t deserve them. I’d confess that I was saved, but that I was supposed to struggle… because I wasn’t progressing… I was arrogant in my youth, sloppy in my sanctification… and I was being held to a different standard. After all, my parents were pastors… God had worked huge miracles in their lives… so-called prophets always knew exactly what my brother’s calling was on his life… but when it came to me no 2 were ever in agreement… they were all over the place with me… because I didn’t have a calling, because God’s awesome promises weren’t for me… they were for everyone else. Cognitive dissonance… I simply couldn’t hold all things I was being told in evangelicalism (NAR flavor) as true while making an honest assessment of my own actions, my own thought life, my own sin. The pieces didn’t fit. Either the theology was wrong, or I was…and I was convinced that God simply didn’t want those things for me. I thank God that in His Grace and Mercy… He never let go of me.

I’m sorry for that tangent… getting back to the topic of cognitive dissonance, modern-day evangelicalism doesn’t make sense to one who is honest about their surroundings or who actually reads the Bible. It doesn’t fit together. It’s entirely too man-centric, and we are horribly messed up. And that is a strength in this song… if we’re honest, we simply cannot go on decreeing and declaring that we are healthy, wealthy, and prosperous because… we aren’t.

Repent and be Forgiven. The song takes a step in the right direction by at least acknowledging something isn’t right. We sin. There needs to be a solution to that sin. There is, but it isn’t found within us. The first line of the song that needs correction is the line everyone has a heart that loves to hide. The truth is that everyone has a heart that love to sin. To protect our sin, we hide it rather than expose it. We did it back in the Garden in Adam when he chose to hide from God after sinning, and then blaming the woman for our sin. We hide our sin rather than confess it. That is our bent, that is the impact of sin on our hearts.

1 John 1 (ESV)

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, thatGod is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us. This is where we find our rest in this life… in the Person and Word of Jesus Christ. There’s no moving on from this while we walk this earth in jars of clay. We are still sinners, saved by Grace. We sin, and the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin according to the Law and crushes us… for the letter of the Law kills… but the Holy Spirit brings life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don’t look to your emotions, your “brokenness”, or even your “honesty” for forgiveness… it’s not within you… it’s outside of you… it’s in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ… it’s in the Written Word of God, it’s in the waters of baptism, it’s in the bread and cup of communion. Seek forgiveness outside of you, for only God forgives… and He is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse you in Jesus’ Name. Daily.

Where the song completely misses. The song simply cannot seem to shake itself free from looking within for answers. ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy’s waiting on the other side Who’s love? Which divide? Are we talking simply the emotional pangs of hurt, or are we talking about sin? Are we talking about simply airing out grievances with our neighbor or are we talking about seeking forgiveness from sin? And mercy’s waiting on the other side of what? Again, God’s mercy comes to us through His Word and through Preaching… but this evangelicalism suggests that we have to do something or cross something to get to that Mercy that is on the other side of whatever it is that separates us… does this point back to the divide caused by hurt? So we need to be honest, so that love can heal what hurt divided and once that divide is healed THEN we get to Mercy? I think I might have pulled something.

The bridge of the song misfires, because the “it” points to us and our honesty. If we’re honest, then it would It would change our lives. If we’re honest, then It would set us free. If we’re honest, then It’s what we need to be. See how that is bent in on itself? Forgive me the obvious counter-argument, but there are a lot of sinners who are quite honest and brash concerning their sin. They are flagrant. In fact, and I didn’t start this discussion like I usually do by pointing out the intended target audience, but this song is clearly pointed at the evangelical Christian… because only the evangelical Christian struggles with the cognitive dissonance of proclaiming to be fully set free from sin and progressing toward perfection in Christ Jesus while having to ignore the reality of their own sin. Unbelievers don’t struggle with this level of dissonance, because they simply call evil good and good evil. They embrace their sin because they reject God.

Conclusion

If we are honest… we are sinners in need of a savior. We bring nothing to our salvation than our sinful hearts. Salvation, Faith, Repentance and Forgiveness is Christ’s work on us, and we contribute nothing to that work. Now, as believers, we share the grace bestowed upon us with our neighbors, we do good works of service to our neighbors in thanksgiving to God, knowing full well that even our best good work for our neighbor is stained by our sin. Just like the Israelites in the wilderness needed God to provide Mana from heaven on a daily basis for their daily bread, we rely on Christ’s unfailing love for us and forgiveness for our sins. Dear Christian, stop looking within yourself (or your heart/emotions) for faith, healing, restoration, rest, forgiveness… instead, look to the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Your right standing before God isn’t based on what you’ve done, but what He has done for you. Your relationship with your neighbor (and getting back to the context of within a marriage) is affected by what you do. Be honest and vulnerable with your neighbor, and share the Gospel of Grace. Serve your neighbor, forgive your neighbor, and share both Law and Gospel with your neighbor, knowing that Christ has forgiven you of all of your sins, in Jesus’ Name.

Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV)

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

2 thoughts on “DiM | “If We’re Honest” by Francesca Battistelli

  1. Wow! Absolutely FANTASTIC post, brother! The experience you described is very similar to my own. Thank God that Jesus is faithfully seeking out his lost sheep and bringing us home!

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