July 18, 2017. Today we’ll be taking a look at “Broken Things” by Matthew West which currently sits at #8 on 20TheCountdownMagazine.
I dislike this song very much. It’s an anthem of synergism with a focus on “me”. It’s a pious humble-brag of sorts along an, I’m broken, but God uses broken things not perfect things so I’m what God’s looking for, theme. This song earns a spot on the Disapproved list. Let’s watch the video and read through the lyrics.
Official Music Video
Lyrics (via KLove)
If grace is a kingdom
I’ve stopped at the gate
Thinking I don’t deserve to pass through after all of the mistakes I’ve made
But I heard a whisper
As Heaven bent down
Said, “Child, don’t you know that the first will be last and the last get a crown?”
Now I’m just a beggar in the presence of a King
I wish I could bring You so much more
But if it’s true You use broken things
Then here I am Lord, I am all Yours
The pages of history they tell me it’s true
That it’s never the perfect; it’s always the ones with the scars that You use
It’s the rebels and the prodigals; it’s the humble and the weak
The misfit heroes You chose
Tell me there’s hope for sinners like me
Grace is a kingdom
With gates open wide
There’s seat at the table just waiting for you
So, come on inside
Publishing: © 2017 Atlas Music Publishing / House Of Story Music Publishing / Two Story House Music / Highly Combustible Music (ASCAP) / Housermania Music/ (ASCAP) (admin. by Amplified Administration)
Writer(s): Jason Houser, AJ Pruis and Matthew West
Okay, this song upset me greatly. It starts with a goofy hypothetical and takes a nosedive from there. The video brings no corrective clarity. The summary of this song is “let God use you for Greatness despite your broken state!” That’s a theology of glory, it’s a pious version of the humble-brag. It’s about how awesome we are because we’re broken and we just need to see ourselves as god sees us…. no. That’s not the truth of our condition under sin and it certainly isn’t the Gospel of Grace. Even that last line is junk. It’s almost a partial quote… but it isn’t.
Verse 1. We start with a hypothetical question that winds up being presented as truth at the end of the song. If Grace is a kingdom… Stop. Why are we separating God’s Grace as its own thing and defining it as a kingdom? A kingdom is defined by its King. God the Son (Jesus) is King, not an abstract notion of “Grace”. Hear me, I’m not saying God’s Grace is abstract, I’m saying this lyric is treating the concept of God’s Grace in the abstract, and then comparing it to something else that is God’s, His Kingdom. The singer has stopped at the gate of God’s Kingdom, and all of heaven bent down to tell him he gets a crown? Man it takes a lot of work to unravel this coded speech to make it in any way redeemable. The average listener will simply pluck out word pictures and then proof text them in isolation. If you have to deconstruct a lyric into segments that might be valid in different contexts, you’re no longer evaluating the lyric. You’re on a theological scavenger hunt.
Chorus. First line is okay, we could go somewhere with this. We are beggars in front of the King. But instead of pointing the beggar to the King who gives good gifts, takes our rags and clothes us in the Righteousness of Christ… we go right back to synergism, the notion of “giving ourselves to God” so that He can use us. Folks, this is NOT the point of the Gospel. God doesn’t need us to “give ourselves over to Him” for Him to use us. He is Sovereign, God used unbelievers like Balaam and Judas to bring about His purposes. The point of the Gospel is not that God finally gets to use us… it’s being reconciled to Him, forgiveness of sins, the promise of the Resurrection in Jesus Christ, our adoption out of the kingdom of death and darkness into the Kingdom of Eternal Life with our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Verse 2. The hope being begged for is still the wrong hope. It’s a hope “to be used” when the primary Promise of the Gospel is the hope of Salvation!
Outro/Closing Verse. This is where that initial hypothetical is turned into a declaration. I’m annoyed by this abstraction of Grace being the Kingdom. It’s vague, semi-gnostic, gobbledygook.
There are clear ways of encouraging the body of Christ in the hope of their salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus and in stir up one another to love and good works without diving into the nonsensical. Let’s look at Scriptural encouragement in all of its clarity:
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV) | Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Colossians 1:3-23 (ESV) We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 2:6-15 (ESV) | Alive in Christ
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
1 Peter 1:3-9 (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. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
This song is an altar-call anthem, an attempt to motivate someone to “give themselves to God” despite their unworthiness… by actually making that unworthiness into what makes you worthy? “Cause God uses broken things, you’re broken, so let God use you. It starts on the wrong foot and doesn’t recover. It’s a confusion of Law and Gospel, diminishing the Law and completely misrepresenting the Gospel and turning into Law (give yourself to God falls under the first/greatest commandment). This song falls under the Disapproved category.
Jude 24-25 (ESV) Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
2 thoughts on “DiM | “Broken Things” by Matthew West”
Thank you. I just listened to it for the first time, and as a singer and writer, I pay almost too close attention to lyrics. I immediately felt like I was listening to nails on a chalkboard. I totally get what your saying and mostly agree! I’d also disagree w/you about the “I’m just a beggar…” reference. Beggar, broken and sinner are actually never used to describe believers under the new covenant of Jesus. If this is for unbelievers, it shouldn’t be playing on mainstream Christian radio to millions of people who consider themselves followers of Christ. We as the Church have been falsely indoctrinated with the concept of calling ourselves names and labels that WE NEVER SEE in Scripture after Jesus came – and just as importantly, we never see Jesus call us or exemplify. If we look to him for our identity, we HAVE to stop calling ourselves every “lowly” name that looks and feels humble, and do the work of looking up what Jesus (and subsequently Paul) calls believers – and exchange those names like beggar, sinner and broken for names that are correct. Saints. Whole. Complete. Citizens of heaven. Friends of God.
It’s just become too easy to grasp and own a self perception that is still rooted in the former you – the “old” man that actually is to be considered dead in order to live alive in Christ.
It falls back to the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”, between “sinner/beggar” and “saint”. As Christians still walking in this life, we are still fallen creatures who are going to die because of sin, but by Faith in Christ Jesus we are also Saints, made Holy by Christ Jesus. We have the Hope of Salvation in Christ Jesus, hope in the Resurrection into Eternal life, it is at that moment that we’ll never again have to deal with our sinful natures. I agree that it is appropriate to proclaim who we are in Christ Jesus by Grace through Faith in Him. Just don’t lose sight of that fact that on this side of eternity, we’re also sinners wholly dependent upon Christ’s Grace and forgiveness.