Would you want your spouse to just snatch some random greeting card off the rack and hand it to you without bothering to really think about what the card says? Isn’t it true that phrases like “I love you” become very hurtful when they’re said insincerely? When we sing songs to our glorious Makers, we need to be giving serious thought to the lyrics and make sure they are ones that our Gods would actually find pleasing. There are many worship songs in circulation today which grossly insult our Gods. Singing to Them is not like singing at some brick wall which neither knows nor cares about what you’re saying. Our Gods are very sensitive and deeply passionate Beings. They detest it when we just yammer on at Them with no consideration for Their feelings. Do you want your husband to groove along to some song that grossly demeans women just because it has a cool beat? Do you want your wife to be singing along to a song that grossly insults men and then scoff at your protests by saying, “Don’t be so touchy! I love the melody!”? A lot of really irreverent songs become popular among Christians simply because of catchy rhythms and great harmonies. We can’t help the fact that we enjoy a tune, but if the words insult one or more of our glorious Lords, then where do we get off singing it at Them? Worship is not a game to Them. Our worship needs to be sincere, and that’s not going to happen until we are really thinking about the words we’re singing. Don’t be saying or singing stuff to God that you don’t mean. He finds it annoying—wouldn’t you?
Now in the world of worship songs we find some really good ones, some really bad ones, and everything in between. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at Jeremy Camp’s worship song entitled Same Power. Worship lyrics are filled with theological assumptions about God, but are those assumptions accurate? Often they’re not, and when they’re not, we end up making a lot of insulting inferences about who God is and how He operates. Imagining ourselves singing the following lyrics to God, let’s consider the theological implications of these lyrics and see if this song is one that God would find pleasing or not.
[VERSE 1] I can see
Waters raging at my feet
I can feel
The breath of those surrounding me
I can hear
The sound of nations rising up
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome
Waters raging at one’s feet is a classic symbol for trouble. This is a song which is meant to inspire us to stand confidently in the midst of tough times. That’s certainly a nice thought, but if our confidence is going to be pleasing to God, it needs to be based on truth, not wishful thinking. The truth is that all of our trials come from God in the first place—this is a point which very few Christian artists acknowledge. God brings trials into our lives for positive spiritual reasons. So instead of viewing them as entirely negative burdens or enemy driven battles which we must somehow conquer, it would be far more beneficial if we expressed confidence in God’s care of us and asked Him to help us learn all that He wants to teach us. But alas, this is not a mindset that we find popping up in worship songs. Instead there is usually an “us against them” mentality promoted as we grit and grind our way through warfare.
In Same Power, Mr. Camp throws out the ego pleasing promise that “We will not be overtaken; we will not be overcome.” Well, what exactly does this mean? Has God promised to never allow devastation, heartbreak, and despair into our lives? No, He has not. The reality is that God will put some of us through some extremely brutal experiences. Certainly we don’t want to fall into the trap of a “no pain, no gain” mindset, because every walk is different and there are many fabulous lessons to be learned through the good times. But at the same time, if we refuse to see God as the ultimate Director and Source of our trials, we will have a difficult time responding to them the way that He wants us to. Trials aren’t just bummers that we need to push through. They are critical opportunities for growth. Unfortunately, Same Power doesn’t place any value on trials, but regurgitates the deluded thinking of the apostle Paul—a man who denied the sovereignty of God and saw a world full of enemies who at times managed to zip tie God’s wrists.
[VERSE 2] I can walk
Down this dark and painful road
I can face
Every fear of the unknown
I can hear
All God’s children singing out
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome
At this point, we should be asking ourselves, “Now wait a second—just how are we going to manage to face every fear and press on through any painful circumstance? We’re just fragile human beings—easily frightened and vastly limited. So where is our guarantee that we’ll overcome everything?” As we reach the chorus, Mr. Camp provides us with the answer.
[CHORUS] The same power that rose Jesus from the grave
The same power that commands the dead to wake
Lives in us, lives in us
The same power that moves mountains when He speaks
The same power that can calm a raging sea
Lives in us, lives in us
He lives in us, lives in us
We can appreciate what Camp is trying to say. He’s saying, “Hey, God is super-powerful. Let’s take a moment to remember some of the things He’s done to demonstrate just how unlimited He is. If He’s with us, we have nothing to fear.” And since Christians are notorious for minimizing God’s abilities, this song provides us with a useful reminder of just how awesome our Gods are.
Your soul attitude is going to determine how useful this song is to you. If you’re entrenched in the prayer warrior mentality, you’ll take this song to mean that you can get your own greedy little hands on that power that’s residing in you and use it to get your own agenda done. Songs about God’s great power abound in the Church, but unfortunately many of them are used to feed the blasphemous mentality that we can get Christ to do all things for us. It’s right and proper to express awe of God’s great power as long as you’re remembering that it is His power, not yours, and you won’t see the day that He hands you any of it. God does what God wants to do. When God granted us access to Heaven, He didn’t also grant us access to His power. Certainly God is always with us, but He will act when He is in the mood to do so.
[VERSE 3] We have hope
That His promises are true
In His strength
There is nothing we can’t do
Yes, we know
There are greater things in store
We will not be overtaken
We will not be overcome
Certainly God is trustworthy, and certainly we Christians have much to look forward to. It’s the empowerment issue that we always trip over. Is there any limit to what God can do through us? Certainly not, but an honest scrutiny of your own life will reveal a vast difference between what you want to do and what God is willing to empower you to do. The addict wants to kick his addiction—should he take this song to mean that it’s just a matter of properly manipulating the power that resides within him? Will our problems magically evaporate if we just stand around singing “we will not be overcome”? No, sometimes God wants us to get pounded into the ground and remain helplessly bound by our flesh for a while.
It is very important to God that we develop an attitude of total dependency on Him. The Church is always dragging us in the wrong direction by going on and on about what potent little conquerors we are through Christ. Christ’s power is not some drug that we can inject to give ourselves a temporary burst of superhuman strength. As long as we are calling ourselves victorious overcomers, we never get around to embracing our identity as God’s servants and His powerless dependents. God delights in us clinging to Him in desperate need. He’s not so keen on us declaring when and how He will help us in our daily trials. Sometimes He’ll empower us to overcome, other times He’ll have us mowed down and we’ll feel like utter failures. Failing is a critical part of maturing as a Christian and developing those essential soul attitudes of humility and dependency. We all need to hear God saying “no” to us plenty of times along the journey if we’re ever to develop the right kind of dynamic with Him. God wants reverential submission, not a bunch of cocky claiming. There’s limited value in discussing how many things God could theoretically do through us. At some point we need to take an honest look at what He is and isn’t choosing to do through us today and then ask Him to help us learn the lessons He wants to teach us by the way He is interacting with us. God withholds His empowerment from us for good reasons—when do we get around to asking Him what those reasons are?
[BRIDGE] Greater is He that is living in me
He’s conquered our enemy
No power of darkness
No weapon prevails
We stand here in victory
This bit about God conquering our enemy is a slam against His sovereignty which we get from the apostle Paul. No one ever trumps God. So there’s no sense in which God has ever had an opponent which needed conquering. But like many of the Jews in his time, the apostle Paul greatly exaggerated the power of demons—especially the power of Satan. It is Satan that Camp is alluding to here, and he’s summarizing Paul’s claims that Jesus finally managed to overcome that bad ole devil by dying and resurrecting. Well, no, such a theory is grossly insulting to Christ. But of course Paul is the same dingdong who suggested that Christ is still struggling to overcome His enemies—most notable of which is a god which Paul calls “Death”. According to Paul, Christ will only continue to reign until He finally figures out how to finish conquering His foes. Then He’ll step down off the throne and hand all of His Authority over to the glorious Yahweh. You see, Paul didn’t buy into the idea that Christ was Yahweh’s equal. Instead, he taught that Yahweh was the only true God and Christ was merely a human mediator between us and Yahweh. Certainly Paul thought Christ had been given some major perks by Yahweh—such as a temporary season of great power and authority. But to Paul, Christ was a temporary Ruler at best. This is why we don’t like Paul: the man grossly insults our glorious Lords (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ).
So while Camp has been clearly influenced by Paul’s warped theology, you need to realize that God hasn’t “conquered” anything. Yahweh, Jesus, and the magnificent Holy Spirit are Supreme Rulers whose dominion knows no bounds. Satan does not rule over this world. Those infamous “powers of darkness” that Paul thought so much of are like so many flecks of dust to our glorious Gods. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that demons can’t even sustain their own existence. With a single thought, our Gods could instantly uncreate all that is. Is it really appropriate to suggest that They felt a need to conquer entities who They have absolute control over? Not hardly.
Is God greater than us? Infinitely. Has He conquered our enemy? On the contrary, God is currently sustaining demons and intentionally granting them access to us whenever it suits His purposes. Talk to a Christian who is being intensely harassed, and that soul will not feel at all like they are merely being attacked by creatures who have been utterly defeated. Demons are not conquered, they are controlled, and that control is absolute. Where there is absolute control, there is no need for conquering.
Camp and Paul both declare that no weapon will prevail against us. Well, define prevail. John the Baptist had his head lopped off by a spiritual rebel and he didn’t come springing back to life three days later. In the biblical records, we find a long history of God’s dedicated guys getting brutally mowed over in this world. We all know that using language like “prevail” and “overcome” has a way of raising our expectations too high. God does not promise us sweet lives on earth. He promises us eternal rewards if we respond to Him well, and He teaches us to align with His value system—one which says that being commended by God is far more important than seeing our enemies retreat before us on earth. God is indeed always with us, but this should thrill us for different reasons than Camp is suggesting in this song.
We can’t control how God uses His power, but we can make choices that will result in Him being very pleased with us. It is God’s approval that matters in life, not feeling like we are rising above every obstacle in our path. It’s far better to be getting trampled on by demons and be pleasing in God’s eyes than to have Him move mountains out of our way while He simultaneously considers us to be rebellious brats. It’s not winning battles that we should be focusing on, but pleasing the hearts of our glorious Lords. We want to be a blessing to Them, and we want to be humbly pursuing the great prize of knowing Them better. Certainly Their power is awesome, but should They choose not to use that power in a way that benefits us in some desperate moment, what then? It isn’t God’s power that we should be so enticed by. It is His entire Person. What man wants his wife to say that his physical strength is the thing she admires most about him? Isn’t it far more pleasing to be valued for one’s character? Certainly our Gods can do all things, but are we valuing Them for the miracles They can pump out or for who They are?
At best, Same Power gives us a much needed reminder that the things which threaten us do not begin to threaten our glorious Lords. But if we’re not thinking, this song can encourage us to get so focused on what our Gods can do that we stop cherishing Them for who They are.