You may be wondering why I have chosen to do a Wednesday summer song series on MercyMe’s newest album, Lifer, released this past March. It’s certainly not because I’m a contemporary Christian music expert. Far from it. It’s not because I know the group personally and they are paying me to promote their music. (That would be really cool, though!) It’s because MercyMe’s grace-saturated hearts are spilling over into their lyrics like no other Christian music artist I know of.
Let me explain. Contemporary Christian music has been my music genre of choice since the fall of 1997. That’s when personal loss drove me to seek God like never before in my life. I locked in my non-digital garage sale radio to a Christian station and ripped the knob off of it. Well, it actually accidentally broke off! No problem. I wasn’t planning on changing the station.
So, I’ve been listening to contemporary Christian music (almost exclusively) for close to twenty years now. And I will let you in on a secret: just because a song or an album is produced “in Jesus’ name,” doesn’t necessarily mean it conveys the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christian song lyrics, in my opinion, are only as good and accurate as the theology of those who write them.
You know exactly what I mean if you have ever listened to a Christian song that left you feeling like the gospel (the best news ever) got worse the moment you got saved. Lyrics that transmit messages like, “Christian, you have a wicked heart. You need to read your Bible more, pray more, witness more, and give more to get and stay right with God. You need to empty yourself of you (implies that who you are is worthy of riddance) in order to be filled with God. And the list goes on and on.” I hope you get the point.
In a September 2013 interview with ReligionNews.com, MercyMe’s lead vocalist, Bart Millard, was asked about his new-found passion for God’s grace that was being reflected in the lyrics of the songs in his band’s newest album (at the time), The Hurt and the Healer. The following is his transparent response:
I preached for years that you can’t earn God’s favor. But for whatever reason, it was all so robotic for me, and all I was really trying to do was earn it. I was doing everything that religion told me to do. I was trying to get a high score. But no matter how many records were sold or people were impacted, I didn’t seem to feel like I was inching closer to God. And, meanwhile, my family life was hanging by a thread. Sure, I would have told you that I was trusting Jesus for salvation and heaven, but the reality was that I was still working overtime to gain God’s approval on a daily basis! Essentially, my identity was completely MercyMe. Then, I began to realize that the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in me.
Millard’s realization that “the same Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in me,” came through reading The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church, a book by best-selling author and Lubbock, Texas pastor, Andrew Farley. The two connected through Twitter and ended up writing a grace-filled book together by the same name as the album–The Hurt and the Healer. (You can read the brief interview here to learn more about Bart’s grace-awakening.)
Since the 2012 release of their album, The Hurt and The Healer, MercyMe has produced two more grace-exuding albums: Welcome to the New in 2014 and Lifer, as previously mentioned, released in March of this year. And all I can say is, “Their albums just keep getting better and better!”
Don’t get me wrong. I fell in love with MercyMe’s music the first time I heard “I Can Only Imagine,” the most played Christian radio single in history. But the songs written and recorded since Millard’s grace epiphany are just sweeter, in my opinion, than the ones before. I think Bart might tell you the same thing.
Next Wednesday, I will review the first song, “Lifer,” listed on MercyMe’s 2017 album by the same name. I will be reviewing all ten songs, one every Wednesday, in the order that they are listed on the album. In each post, I will include links where you can listen to the spotlighted song and the heart behind it. I will elaborate on the message in the song by telling you how the song speaks to me and its new covenant Scriptural foundation.
I’m looking forward to sharing this Summer Song Series, “Why I Think MercyMe’s Newest Album, Lifer, Is Their Best Ever,” with you. I hope you will tune in the next ten Wednesdays and glean much grace from the entire album. If you do, you just might end up doing the Happy Dance with me!
Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s post about the popular contemporary Christian music group, MercyMe, and their shift to a grace-based new covenant focus on their three most recent albums. I would love to interact with you by asking you,
What is your all-time favorite MercyMe song and why?
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