The reaction to my last post on ‘This Little Light’ was mixed. Some liked what I had to say, other didn’t, some felt guilty and one person told me I was a rubbish Christian. It might have been more effective if he/she had had the courage to leave a real name. Someone else complained I’d watched an old video so I watched the new one and realised that a) selling the ‘gospel’ through back flips were still there b) the morality/good works gospel was even more evident and c) it was still resoundingly pathetic and d) it was three times more ethnically diverse.
Anyways, I thought to try and clear the air a bit and in an effort to persuade people just how shallow ‘This Little Light’ is I’d look at a contemporary song that was also successful. Say hello then to ‘East to West’ by Casting Crowns.
Just as a quick point – this is far from the best Christian song I could have chosen. There are many others which are even better. But I chose ‘East to West’ because it was released recently (2007), was a success (25th in US charts) and is by a popular Christian band.
Here it is:
As you can tell straight away it’s totally different from ‘This Little Light’. Good for instance. Let’s look at the lyrics:
“Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness/The chains of yesterday surround me”
Great opening line - captures the flood of God’s grace to us and the low condition he rescued us from. Oh, and actually uses the word: ‘Lord’ as opposed to some vague reference to ‘him’.
“I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way”
Can any Christian say he or she hasn’t felt like this? That though we know Christ’s righteousness is ours we still can doubt it. We still can feel like Christ’s death wasn’t as all sufficient as it was.
“Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again”
Notice how completely God centred this song is. Not ‘I’m going remember how far the east is from the west’ but ‘Jesus, can you show me’. The song recognises that all spiritual truth comes from Jesus – that we need his constant guidance. We need to be reminded of the great truth that we are forgiven for our sins. And this is all based on a Bible verse:
“as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103 v 12
“'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other”
And we see here a reference to Jesus’ pain and suffering on the cross for our sins! Forgiveness, the cross and suffering all tied up together. This is sound theology all in a single beautiful image.
"I start the day, the war begins, endless reminding of my sin
Time and time again Your truth is drowned out by the storm I'm in”
And more sound theology here: it is a biblical truth that we are in a spiritual war. As Paul writes:
“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”
Ephesians 6 v 11 – 12
‘East to West’ reminds us that the Christian life is hard and we are still full of sin. That too often we let the storms of this world ‘drown out’ the truth of the gospel. And in reminding us about this it challenges us to remember the gospel.
“I can't live by what I feel, but by the truth Your word reveals
I'm not holding on to You, but You're holding on to me
You're holding on to me”
And here we have the weakness of man’s emotions and the strength of the Word of God. Plus we have the wonderful truth that God is holding on to us not the other way around. If this verse was in ‘This Little Light’ it would probably say: “I’m holding onto you, I’m holding onto you, because I’m cool”
“In the arms of Your mercy I find rest”
And once again we have more solid truth – God’s mercy is on us. As Paul writes:
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Ephesians 2 v 4 – 5
This is an unfair comparison
Exactly! ‘This Little Light’ is now shown for the spiritually bankrupt song it is. When compared with a song with a firm biblical basis we see how shallow, how weak and how utterly useless ‘This Little Light’ is.
There is more truth in one line of ‘East to West’ than in the whole of the Wishy washy nonsense of ‘This Little Light’. And the amazing thing is that there are better songs out there. If I had chosen to look at ‘In Christ Alone’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Indescribable’, ‘How Deep the Father’s Love For Me’, ‘Give us your courage’, ‘How He Loves Me’ and ‘God of all’ to name but a few I could have wiped the floor with LZ7’s feeble attempt (well, more so than I have). In fact, look at my Spotify playlist and you’ll find Christian songs that all put ‘This Little Light’ to shame by revealing it’s immaturity, childishness and lack of truth.
‘This Little Light’ should be the laughing stock of the Christian song world. It contains zero useful spiritual truth, no challenges, no great truths about God and proclaims a false gospel of good works rather than the true gospel of salvation.
A Christian song exalts God and/or humbles man. Period. It also contains solid biblical truth. It doesn’t shy away from sin, God’s majestic sovereignty or, you know, actually mentioning God by name.
The difference between ‘East to West’ and ‘This Little Light’ is simple. One of them is a Christian song. The other barely even rates the term ‘song’.