September 27, 2016. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Mended” by Matthew West which currently sits at #20 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.
This song is written as a sort of love song from God to the Christian. As such, Matthew West is speaking in the place of God to offer encouragement to the listener. I generally advise against this approach because it leaves room to speak in God’s Name what He hasn’t spoken (runs the risk of blasphemy). There are some themes in this song that I have no doubt many find personally engouraging and even precious. Please understand that we understand there are specific hurts that need to be addressed, but we need to address them Biblically. I’m not discrediting the hurts that this song is targeting. We all have real hurts. Rather than having someone like Matthew West put words in God’s mouth, we really should be pointed to God’s Word and His Promises. Let’s watch the lyric video and then dive into the lyrics.
MatthewWestVEVO (Lyric Video)
Another hyper-individualistic music video. One hurting person struggling alone, the singer (also alone) offering words of comfort to the hurting person. Christianity isn’t an individualistic thing. Christians are not individuals unto themselves; rather, we are members of the Body of Christ. Interconnected and corporately engaged as the Bride of Christ. We are the sheep, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. A sheep on its own is lost. Wolves seek to islate and seperate a lamb from the flock, so that they can devour it in solitude without having to deal with the Shepherd. We’ll deal with the lyrics now, but I wanted to address what seems to be a growing trend. A spirituality that marginalizes the Body of Christ and emphasizes the individual experience leads into the snare of mysticism. This is a dangerous trend in American Evangelicalism.
Lyrics (via KLove)
How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone
You never thought you’d be
Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see it now
So lift your eyes to me
When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home
You see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended
You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
There’s nothing you could ever do
To lose what grace has won
So hold on, it’s not the end
This is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you
I see my child, My beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell
You see worthless, but I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy
Publishing: © 2015 Highly Combustible Music/Atlas Music Publishing/House Of Story Music (ASCAP) All rights administered by Atlas Music Publishing obo itself, Highly Combustible Music and House Of Story Music.
Writer: Matthew West
The song is presented in a parental tone like a song of encouragement. I think the first time I listened to the song I was hoping the singer was going to be in the role of parent, big brother, or even a Pastor. But the final line in some of the stanzas remove that understanding of it, lines like “So lift your eyes to me” and “I will make a miracle of you”. So, the singer is speaking in the place of God. The listener is someone who is hurting. No mention of repentance, faith, just hurting and what society would call a “broken self image”. Is the hurt real? Yes. Do Christians still suffer from broken self image? Yes. Christians still struggle with sin and its consequences. We still live in a broken world and walk in broken flesh. So whether the person being sung to (the woman in the video) is a believer or an unbeliever the answer to the struggle being presented is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, repentance and the forgiveness of sins. For the Christian, it becomes ever so important to emphasize “your sins are forgiven”. When Satan cannot prevent the Gospel from being preached to an individual, he shifts into full accuser mode, lying to the believer prompting and prodding him to believe that now its up to the believer to maintain his own salvation. But that is not how the enemy is conquered. Christ has already defeated sin, death and the devil.
Revelation 12:10-11 (ESV) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, forthey loved not their lives even unto death.
The word of their testimony is not a testiment of themselves or who they’ve become; rather, it is the word of their testimony of who Christ Is.
The first four lines are odd as far as who is the one voicing these thoughts. Is the singer anticipating the questions in the audience’s mind? We’ll suspend this question a bit for the sake of artistry. What’s the dilemma being presented? Disappointment. We could assume “failure” or “misfortune”, but the wording is intentionally vague, because the point of this lyric is to apply to as broad a spectrum of emotional hurting as possible. Right or wrong, at this point we can only put our finger on disappointment in what the listener sees in the mirror, because it doesn’t match what the listener thought “should be”. The next four lines facilitate the turn from the problem to the proposed solution without offering any clarity. The song is banking on the listener finding their own struggle in this first verse and then rightly coopting the solution for themselves. Is it a sin to turn out differently from what you thought you’d be? Not necessarily. In some cases, the sin could be in what you’ve become… or the sin could be in the desire of being something you aren’t. The song is vague and completely wide open for any interpretation… because the focal point isn’t a knowlege of sin but the emotion of disappointment.
Well, this chorus could almost be a Joel Osteen lecture set to music. Rather than offering up the objective truth of God’s Word, the song engages in reshaping what we “see”. This is supposed to be voicing from God’s perspective. The problem is it’s still speaking of things only as potential truths. God’s Word isn’t written in potentials. God has revealed Himself in Scripture, and His Promises are True. Our forgiveness is assured in Christ Jesus. Our resurrection is also assured in Christ Jesus. What is this song offering as the solution to the problem? An unseen progression of mending and goodness. It’s a very “positive” declaration of “you’re looking at it the wrong way”. Just change how you look at it, how you think about it, and you’ll see. Seriously, this is very Joel Osteen here.
At least here we’re getting close to the idea of sin. Sin is the central problem to all of this temporal life. All of it. Sin. Not mistakes, sin. Our flesh is sinful. Our hearts are sinful. The solution isn’t some hidden potential within us… the solution is Christ and His Blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sin. The song that won’t name sin, cannot offer forgiveness. We get that here, too. Still a perception only sort of problem here. You see it one way, but God sees it another way, so it’s all good, you’ll see… someday. The last four lines of this verse are quite bold. This is where love’s work begins? In this emotion? No. Constantly moving the goal posts is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t encourage Christians to keep looking for the moment they feel saved, we point them back to the It is Finished when Christ secured their salvation.
Romans 6:1-14 (ESV) | Dead to Sin, Alive to God
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 selfwas 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.
Notice how Paul isn’t talking about your baptism or your Salvation in “potential” terms; rather, he’s working forward from what God has already done for you. This is what it means to preach the Gospel to believers. To remind them of what God has already done for them, that He has already paid the penalty, forgiven you of sin, and sealed you in His Righteousness. We do look forward to the Last Day, not for our own earthly perfection, but for the Day of the Resurrection.
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.
Instead of constantly looking for an indication you are saved, or an internal aknowledgement that you’ve been mended, trust in the Work Christ has done to save you.
Now, to the hurting, the discouraged, the disappointed, and even the depressed… place your hope and trust in Christ Jesus, who laid down His life for you, for the forgiveness of your sin, so that He can clothe you in His Righteosness. So that by His Grace, through Faith, God no longer sees your unrightousness… He sees His Son, Jesus Christ. He’s not relying on your “potential”, He sees Christ.
Isaiah 61:10 (ESV)
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Ephesians 5:25-27 (ESV)
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
We, the Church, the corporate Body of Christ, are His Bride. He washes us, cleanses us, sanctifies us, clothes us, and covers us in Salvation and Righteousness, to present us to Himself holy and without blemish. This is made objectively clear in God’s Written Word, despite what you feel. When your feelings betray you, hold onto the objective Word of God.
This song is trying to do a good thing, but going about it sloppily. The hurting and the lowly in spirit need to be comforted. But we need to do so in Truth and we need to point them to God’s Word. It’s dangerous to start creatively speaking in God’s place. I disapprove of the approach and focus of this song, but not the goal. The goal was to offer encouragement to the broken and the weary. There is hope and comfort for all, and it isn’t something that has to be imagined, preach the Gospel to the believers, too. We need to hear that our sins are forgiven in Jesus’ Name, that we’ve been clothed by His righteosness. Call the haughty, arrogant, and proud to repentance through the preaching of the Law… but one who is aware of his/her sin needs the healing balm of the Gospel preached.
Romans 16:24-27 (ESV) | Doxology
Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mysterythat was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
In Christ Jesus,