I don’t mean to be the conscience of the Christian music industry, but there is another popular song that left me dismayed and wanting to say something. So here I go.
“Forgiveness,” by Toby Mac and featuring Lecrae, who really should know better given he rapped on the Heidelberg Catechism, repeatedly says “we all need forgiveness” “Cause we all make mistakes sometimes, and we all step across that line.”
No. Mistakes are what happens on a math test when we forget to carry the one. Or when we write “it’s” when we really meant “its” (can you tell I’m grading papers?). Or when we send out Brandon Weeden because the only player we have who resembles a starting quarterback tore his ACL and it doesn’t matter anyhow because our season is already ruined and we’re just hoping for a high draft pick.
But I digress. We don’t need God’s forgiveness because we’ve made mistakes but because we’ve sinned. We are treacherous rebels who deserve hell, not a lower score on our SAT. As the Heidelberg Catechism reminds us, unless we start with “how great our sins and misery are,” we will never begin to appreciate how God “has delivered us from our sin and misery,” and we will certainly not be thankful for that deliverance.
Near the end of “Forgiveness” there is one line that gets it right. It says, “No matter how wrong you are, you’re not that far, you’re not too far” from forgiveness. However, the preceding two lines say, “No matter how lost you are, we all need forgiveness. No matter how hurt you are, we all need forgiveness.”
If we’re lost we don’t need forgiveness. We need directions. And if we’re hurt we need a bandage or a doctor. We would need to offer forgiveness to whoever hurt us, but we ourselves wouldn’t need it. So while there is one line that alludes to our sin (unless “wrong” here also means “mistake,” but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt), this line is overwhelmed by the constant refrain that we need forgiveness “‘cause we all make mistakes sometimes.”
I understand why the song is popular. It’s catchy and it’s sung by popular artists. It just cheapens forgiveness into something else entirely. We’ve got to get the bad news right or we won’t preserve the gospel.