March 01, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Fearless” by Jasmine Murray which currently sits at #17 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.
Great, another anthemic narcissistic pep-talk set to a catchy beat. But through the partial statements and sentence fragments, is there a message of Law and Gospel in there anywhere? Well, let’s give it a listen and then work through the lyric. In closing, we’ll look at how to properly understand what it means to be overcomers in the Name of Jesus.
Official Lyric Video
Lyrics (via K-Love)
I wake up
I feel it
Those fears are back again
Can’t shake them
Can’t make them
Am I good enough
Do I measure up
Feels like a war I can’t win
But I wasn’t given the spirit of fear
I was given the power of love
Everything I’ve been fighting against
I’m gonna lift it up
I wanna be fearless
No holding back
No backing down
Because I believe You’re with me now
Bring on the unknown
Lead me and I’ll go
Come set me free
God, I want to be
Fearless (I want to be)
Fearless (I want to be)
Will fall at a single word
In Your name
In Your strength
I’m more than a conqueror
I won’t be afraid
I won’t be afraid
I’ll call on Your name
I’ll walk out in faith
Publishing: Fair Trade Global Songs/Jasmine Murray Publishing/Be Inspiring (BMI) (admin. by Music Services, Inc.); Meaux Jeaux Music/Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears Music (SESAC) (admin. by CapitolCMGPublishing.com); Wordspring Music/Tony Wood Songs (SESAC) (admin. by Warner Chappell)
Writers: Jasmine Murray; Jeff Pardo; Tony Wood
Okay, so what is the stated problem in the lyric of this song? What is the enemy here? The feeling of fear of not measuring up, of not being good enough. This notion will undoubtedly resonate with a lot of folks at an emotional level, but is this biblically sound? Since the pre-chorus jumps straight to a paraphrase of a verse found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Let’s look at the section in its immediate context and I’ll highlight the portion being paraphrased in this song.
2 Timothy 1:3-14 (ESV) | Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You
I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
The Apostle Paul isn’t merely talking about self-doubt here. He’s talking about real suffering for the Gospel, true imprisonment and persecution for the sake of the Gospel. The primary problem with these sugar-pop anthems comes in their attempt to bolster “self-esteem” by inflating our accomplishments over the mundane. To push a theology of glory, we have to be told we are champions by simply existing, which necessitates a diminishing of struggle, persecution, and suffering to merely negative self-talk. A major part of all of this is ignoring the real and present problem of our sin. Before we move on, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that “fear” isn’t a universal evil per se; rather, Scripture gives clear instruction regarding fear.
Matthew 10:24-33 (ESV) | Have No Fear
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
We can also look to Proverbs 1 for a positive role of “fear”
Proverbs 1:1-7 (ESV) | The Beginning of Knowledge
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.
This song is all pep-talk, no instruction or even coaching. It’s the theological equivalent of having the cheer-leading squad do cheers during half-time to build the player’s self-esteem without ever addressing how they are actually playing the game. It’s empty talk of “be aggressive”, “D-fence”, and other general themes, but it doesn’t provide any real instruction nor correction.
This very narrow view of the emotion of fear as an enemy leads us into the chorus where the singer is proclaiming she wants to be free of fear. She wants to be fearless. It’s the negative emotion she wants to be rid of. I get that. We can all resonate with that at some level. That’s why the song is on the top 20 chart. But the song is seeking an internal change of emotion without pointing to the clear, external Word of God. The closest we get to a confession of faith leans a bit in the direction of fedaism (faith in the strength of one’s faith) and the ability of the believer to walk out her own declaration of fearlessness.
The second verse engages in narcigesis that is typical in evangelical circles. Negative self-talk and self-doubt suddenly becomes a Mountain that needs to be moved, or Goliath that needs to be killed *sigh*. So they’re going to fall at a single word? Which word is that? There is room to assume that Word is “Jesus”, but we only get in Your Name in the lyric. It’s tough to find clarity here when the song title and the hook of the song is just one word… “fearless” and it’s being applied to us throughout the song. Christians are baptized into the Name of the Father, and of the Son (Jesus), and of the Holy Spirit. For all we know the line about “a single word” might not even be about the Name of Jesus. I could just be a reflection of Word of Faith (WoF) false teaching that our words carry divine power and that all we have to do to over come the obstacles in our path is declare a Word of the Lord ala Kenneth Copeland or Chuck Pierce or some other WoF heretic. I’m not accusing this singer of being a heretic, I’m saying the lack of clarity in the lyric leaves too much room for confusion and false teaching.
The bridge of the song is completely turned inwardly, looking at what “I” will feel, declare, and do. This could just as easily come from a Tony Robbins seminar or some other life coach celebrity making a sales pitch to an evangelical audience. There’s no meat in this lyric. It’s all sugar.
Notice how sin, death, and the devil aren’t mentioned in this song? That’s because those real enemies don’t fit into a theology of glory, for they were defeated by Jesus on the Cross, not our positive self-talk. Christ is the One who is victorious over sin, death, and the devil, and it is Christ who reigns Supreme over all Creation, and only in Christ are do we have Salvation and eternal life. By Faith, the Righteousness of Christ is credited to us and we are reconciled to God, but that’s not to say that we are now going to conquer everything we set our minds to doing while in the flesh in this life.
In closing, I’d like to examine what how Christ defined Himself as the Overcomer of the World. Also, I want to read through His prayer for His Church, including us, who would live on in the world, though not being of the world.
John 16:25-17:26 (ESV) | I Have Overcome the World
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
The High Priestly Prayer
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Jesus Christ has over come sin, death, and the devil in our place, by His Grace, Love, and Mercy on us. He paid the price on our behalf and has atoned for our sin. We are baptized into His death and resurrection to eternal life by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus. Jesus is on His throne, interceding for us, and He will return once more in Glory to judge both the living and the dead. Amen. Come, LORD Jesus.
In Christ Jesus,