My good friend Ian (https://ardentword.wordpress.com/) has wrote another guest blog for the page, and it relates and expands on the latest post, hope you enjoy what you read.
Today I’m writing about a song that contains expletives, and I will not shy away from using them in this piece – you have been forewarned!
I recently listened to a worship song that spoke to me in a way that very few have. King’s Kaleidoscope – A Prayer; a song that dares to use the word “fuck” in its lyrics. I want to discuss my thoughts on this, and why the use of this word transforms the song from a somewhat relatable song of struggle into a song that speaks to the very depths of the heart and raises a challenge to established culture in the Western Church. Here are some of the lyrics to the song, including said expletive:
Will I fall or will I misstep?
Will I call you with my last breath?
Will you be there for me after?
Will I waste inside the silence,
Where the fear is fucking violent?
Wicked sinner thrown to lions
With no hope on the horizon…
I wonder what your immediate reaction to this song is? Shock, offence? Or perhaps, like me, this song resonates deeply with you. Perhaps like me this song is a breath of fresh air for you in an often stifling church culture of maintaining an outward appearance of “everything is fine and Christians should always be happy”. There’s a challenge in this song to embrace the raw nature of our walk. The further I go in my walk, the greater the battle becomes. It doesn’t get easier. It doesn’t all become okay. The higher I see God, and the more I love Him, the more I despise the times when I fall. The further I go the more real the fight becomes. Yet church culture often paints a very different picture, a picture of cake and tea, of “gosh” and “flip” and “bless your heart”. Why are our gatherings so divorced from our reality?
Something that angered me, but did not surprise me, was the response of many Christians to the lyrics used in this song. Comments about King’s Kaleidoscope regarding this song have been full of outrage, people saying how disappointed they are, how terrible and unnecessary it is to swear. This speaks volumes about the mentality of the church. People are so preoccupied in condemning the use of this word that they took absolutely no time to think of the meaning behind it. KK did not write this song frivolously; the song was written by someone who obviously knows struggle in their faith, who is genuinely seeking God and is in anguish because of their doubt, and wished to communicate this in a raw, honest way. But the critics don’t care about that, they care only that their perceived laws have been broken and rush to quote parts of the Bible that mention “corrupting talk”. I’d rather “do church” with five faithful Christians who genuinely struggle on a daily basis with doubt and fear, yet know their God still, and are honest and open enough to be raw and genuine, than five hundred Christians who are more concerned with a person’s choice of words than a person’s heart.
“A Prayer” begins with the doubt and turmoil of the believer and ends like this:
Am I still beside You?
Jesus, where are You?
Jesus, where are You?
I’m right beside you! I feel what you feel!
And I’m here to hold you when death is too real!
You know, I died, too! I was terrified!
I gave myself for you! I was crucified
Because I love you! I love you, child!
I love you!
This song achieves what most worship songs do not. It addresses our inner doubts and struggles and acknowledges that they are very real, and yet transcending that, it declares that Jesus is even more real, and that regardless of where we are His declaration over us is “I love you!” It’s time to stop judging by appearance and start discerning what is within. The church doesn’t need more tea and cake mornings where we can bless each other’s heart. The church needs to relate to the world around it, share in its doubt and pain, and show that we have an answer. We have Jesus, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15), a God who understands our faults and yet is faithful in His love. This does not mean that life will be easy; “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
True Christianity is a damn hard fight. There is a real war within and without; as flawed humans we will stumble. There will be times of darkness, times when God does not feel close. Yet through it all we can cling to the fact that God is real and alive; that His promises are true even if in that moment it doesn’t feel that way. “A Prayer” communicates this reality in a way that a hundred cheery Christian classics never could. I thank God for the bravery and honesty of King’s Kaleidoscope, and pray that more and more the church will throw off the facade of well-to-do and recognise the raw reality of knowing Christ in the midst of a fallen world, with fallen minds and fallen bodies. It is a reality where there is true joy to be found in salvation, and also sorrow to be found in our stumbling. Paul discusses this duality in 2 Corinthians 6:9-11; “…sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.” How encouraging church would be if we could speak freely with hearts wide open. May we all make a greater effort to be unashamed of our struggles, just as we are unashamed of our joy in Christ. I believe that if we make less effort to cover up our pain and anger, and instead embrace it as a reality of our walk, we will see God all the more clearly and be able to empathise more with others in their striving. God bless you.
Here is a link to the song, I rate it very highly: