DiM | “Christ in Me” by Jeremy Camp

disapproveCCM Radio Edition.

April 21, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Christ in Me” by Jeremy Camp which currently sits at #16 on the20theCountdownMagazine.

The song had a promising start, but went a bit sideways into a motivational humble-brag. It’s overly man-focused, even though it’s intended point isn’t necessarily objectionable. Giving this song our best construction, and simplest overview, the point Jeremy is trying to make here is that Christ is all we need, and in Christ we should be satisfied. The song is intended to be an anthem for making Christ the only thing that matters to us so that when people look at us they see Christ. The problem is that’s a pale anthem lacking substance in this song. It’s also like having a dream of one day being recognized as the most humble person in the world. It just doesn’t fit. Besides, we already have the Greatest Commandment of the Law, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”… and we don’t keep it. Let’s give the song a listen and read through the lyrics.

Jeremy Camp VEVO (Lyric Video)

 

Lyrics (via Google Play)

In this obsession with the things this world says make us happy
Can’t see the slaves we are in all the searching all the grasping
Like we deserve much more than all these blessing we’re holding
So now I’m running free into an ocean of mercy unending

So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me
That it’s Christ in me

Done with what holds me down the things I once was chasing after
Throw off these heavy chains that I have let become my master
So now I’m running free into an ocean of mercy unending

So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
That it’s Christ in me
That it’s Christ in me

In this obsession with the things this world says make us happy
Can’t see the slaves we are in all the searching all the grasping

So come and empty me
So that it’s you I breathe
I want my life to be
Only Christ in me
So I will fix my eyes
‘Cause you’re my source of life
I need the world to see
Only Christ in me
Only Christ in me
Only Christ in me
Christ in me

Discussion

Verse 1. A bit artistic in its form, but I had high hopes for where this was heading. I’m all for singing about the grind of our post-modern age of business passing for success. Want to sing about the distractions that come with man-made good works and how they rob the Christian of the Rest they can only find in Christ and His finished work on the cross?… I’ll shout, AMEN! I particularly got excited at the third line… I’m all for destroying our post-modern false-sense of entitlement that despises all of the blessings of God in our lives because we’ve been encouraged to covet our neighbor’s wife, house, and possessions. I was excited for a moment. Then the needle slipped across the grooves a bit… running into an ocean of mercy? I thought we were talking about the blessings God had already given us? Maybe he’s going to be pointing us back to the Gospel and is simply being a bit artistic about it.

Chorus. Okay, so now we need Christ to empty us, so that we can Breathe Christ, and the world will see only Christ in me. Okay, so we’re going with the exhale the worldliness and inhale Christ. Fine, I suppose… but we are teetering on the pietist edge here… for our sinfulness is in our flesh. So, as long as we still walk in this fallen world in our fallen flesh, we will struggle with sins in our hearts and in our actions. No amount of zeal or self torture will rid us of our own sinful nature while we are in this life. We will die because of sin… and because Christ paid our debts in full, we will live again in Him… totally and completely free from sin. Hallelujah!

PreachGospelUseGodsWordHere is where we get the bit of a humble-brag. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we need to seek first the Kingdom of God, and not clamor after the things of this world, but it’s a different thing to seek recognition for it. As I said in the intro, while humility is a desirable trait in a Christian, dreaming of becoming so humble that you are recognized for it is self-defeating and misses the point. So there are 2 theologies at work here that I think need to have some light shined on them. First, we have the false notion of “living out the Gospel rather than preaching it”. Like the mis-attributed Francis of Assisi quote. This is that social Gospel concept that hopes that if Christians were just good enough, people would want desperately to “have what we have” and beg us show them “how to be saved”. Brothers and Sisters in Christ… that’s not how Scripture describes Salvation, preaching the Gospel, how the World views Christ, Christians, or the Gospel, nor does it fit with how Jesus said the end times would look. This modern-day fascination with winning souls by our good works is anti-Biblical. The second thing going on in this reflects back to the pietism in the previous paragraph. There are a lot of well-meaning evangelicals who desperately want to be set free from sin, and will do anything to finally accomplish that goal so that they can have the rest. It’s why they engage in such mystical worship, it’s why they “give sacrificially” in hopes of finally getting the rest for their weary souls. It’s why they answer every.sing.altar.call, with tears streaming down their faces, making promise after promise to God that this time they’ll truly change, this time they’ll truly Love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and mind… because this time they mean it. Such was I for a very long time… and I still struggle with it. Because mysticism infects the soul with inward-centeredness… when the Gospel is external to us. The Gospel isn’t found in our emotions, our actions, or somewhere buried in our hearts waiting to be uncovered… it’s found in God’s Word. The Law is written on our hearts, and it convicts us of our sin (our conscience). Our hearts lie to us. Don’t look to your heart to find answers from God. Look to God’s Word. Look to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is only there where you’ll find rest.

1 Corinthians 15:1-5 (ESV) | The Resurrection of Christ

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

1 Peter 1:3-5 (ESV) | Born Again to a Living Hope

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

We are saved by faith in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Not by our perfection here on earth, not by how the world sees us… but only through Jesus Christ. Which brings me to the final issue with this chorus… the whole “I need the world to see…” No, you don’t. The World needs Christ, yes. Christ must be preached to them. Paul lays this out well in Romans 10.

Romans 10:13-17 (ESV)

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

They will not all repent. Many will continue to Hate Him. Do we want others to see Christ in us? Absolutely. Is that our focus? No. Our focus is Christ, not on whether or not others see Him in us. How can I say that? Well, I’m speaking in a practical manner. Those who wish to be respected for their knowledge need to focus on actually having knowledge rather than trying to insist on having everyone’s respect for a knowledge they may or may not truly possess. If I want other to look at me and see me as a physically fit, able-bodied man… then I should probably focus more on being physically fit and able-bodied than on putting a good front when in front of other people. On a more academic note, you don’t have any control over how the world sees you. You don’t have any control over how anyone else sees you, much less what they see in you. Your focus shouldn’t be on yourself, and it should be on what you think others see in you. Focus on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, and preach the Word of Christ to others and to yourself.

The Word of Christ is sorely missing from this song. Verse 2 slides sideways into empty promises or a sort of editorializing of what I’m going to do now to make sure the world sees only Christ in me like we had our own personal commentator or life narrator. The bit of a Bridge almost returns to the one good point in the first verse, but by now we are swimming in a pool of zeal for man-centered righteousness. But it still doesn’t really go anywhere with it. It’s just a couple of lines to break up the chorus repeats.

Rounding out the discussion of this song, even if we liked everything in the song as presented (we don’t) there isn’t anything substantive to the song. The notion of exhaling our sinfulness and inhaling Christ is purely metaphorical and a bit nonsensical. Scriptures don’t ask us to do this… not this way. The Apostle Paul wrote about dying to self and being born again in Christ… and he connected it to our baptism.

Romans 5:20-6:14 (ESV)

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased,grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Now, while we live in this life, we who have been baptized are to consider ourselves dead to sin by faith in Christ Jesus. The Promise is real, and we are sealed by God the Holy Spirit. By Faith we know that when our physical bodies finally die, we will be brought to new life in Christ Jesus… for real… a real, bodily resurrection into perfection. By faith we hold onto that promise and even consider ourselves dead to sin already. But we fail, so we return to the waters of our baptism (by faith) and repent, knowing that Christ has forgiven us and has cleansed us from all unrighteousness. This is where confession and absolution plays into the life of a Christian. We screw up… but we are not without hope, because we know that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

1 John 1:8-10 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Law and Gospel

A real gem of Lutheran theology is C.W. Walther’s work on Law and Gospel distinctions. When we talk about the need to preach Law and Gospel, we are pointing out that the Word of God has two modes, sometimes separated by scriptures and sometimes the same passage does the work of both… we have the Law of God which convicts us of sin and we have the Gospel which saves us from that sin and the condemnation of it. The Gospel always points to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Walther’s work lays out several examples of the types of problems that arise when Law and Gospel get confused or improperly mixed. I encourage you to read through some of the articles and their related lectures or sermons explaining the issues, even if you aren’t Lutheran.

Conclusion

I’d like to see more of a return to scripture in CCM.  Artists seem to think its up to them to invent new ways of being spiritual or new ways of growing in faith… but none of them hold up. We have God’s Word. We don’t need some squishy emotional pep-talk about breathing Christ in when we have the Commandments and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the answers, and they are found in God’s Word. So point your listeners to the Word. Point them to Christ by actually proclaiming Christ rather than motivating them to love the idea of pointing to Christ. Again, it is important for each of us to daily consider our lives in light of the 10 Commandments, taking account of areas of weakness and failures (the Law)… but not apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ… for it is only in the Gospel that we can find forgiveness, rest, and peace with God.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV)  Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

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