I don’t know why this song has captured my ear recently. Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in Nashville for the last (almost) 4 years and the decisive country twang mixed with rock beats is starting to appeal to my ear. Maybe it’s the novelty of discovering this new group—I love their name; I’m a sucker for a collective descriptor: WE the Kingdom.
But why does this song make the must listen list for me? I originally wrote it off as overly simplistic with possible heretical tones when it first blurred by on the airwaves (or satellite waves to be more specific). However, when I sat down with the lyrics, I saw the potential that this song offers. It fills a necessary void on many contemporary Christian playlists. It’s not by naming our desperate need, because that’s a check-list must for most contemporary songs. No, this song teems with baptismal imagery that offers multiple points of understanding.
More than the initial plunge into salvation described in verse 2, this song also offers an opportunity to remember your baptism in wonderfully tangible ways. By tasting honey, hearing polyphony, and feeling water in our collective memory, our senses are refreshingly connected to the deep forgiveness of God. But the bridge brings the critical lyrics which take this song to the next level (in all its glorious linguistic jargon):
I don’t wanna abuse Your grace; God, I need it ev’ry day.
It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change.
These lines bring baptism forward without cheapening the act by getting “freshly baptized” over and over again. These lines strike another element of baptism that we often gloss over in our rush to the newly-minted Christian feeling: the idea of repentance. Baptism is not magic elixir that suddenly creates better people. Baptism is a marker of intention. God’s intention towards us, marking us as Their own, and our intention towards God, marked by grace we learn to walk new paths. But we stumble as we learn to walk, as we slip and slide.
So we remember our baptism, we return to the forgiveness that we found in that water, reminding ourselves that it chases us as we work for change in ourselves and in the world around us. There are days that we need to be taken to the riverside, not to be re-saved, but to repent and remember. We need to feel the water touch our skin to remind us that we belong to God in such a way that Their grace pursues us. Even in the driest of places, can sense the droplets of Holy Water on our skin.
Couple things to note:
- The first line of verse two is problematic for several reasons. While “dead man walking” is a popular turn of phrase, I get frustrated when artists make unnecessarily gendered statements. Is the link to death row, an image that brings up all kinds of ethical issues within our own humanity, important enough to ask people who are not male to do the mental jump to find inclusion? Could “dead one walking” not also work? Well… it works for me, and that’s what I’m intentionally singing when I’m jamming along.
- I can’t help but think of Psalm 19 (particularly verse 10) in connection to the chorus. Keeping the idea of the Law of the Lord as refreshing for the soul adds dimension to this song for me—whether the original artist intended it or not.