Mark Schultz has a great new song called "Broken and Beautiful", which has been making its rounds on Christian radio in these few weeks before the CD release. Why do I think it's so great? Because it echoes the reality of so many different people from so many different walks of life:
"There's a business man
There's a widowed wife
A smiling face with a shattered life
A teenage girl with a choice to make
It's crowded here in church today"
When I step into church, I know all too well the worries and stresses that I'm facing in my own life, but I often forget that everyone is coming weighed down with their own burdens, too. Everyone has struggles, everyone has pain, and everyone comes in need of healing. Which is why the next part of the first verse is so applicable:
"And the preacher says as the sermon ends
Please close your eyes
Bow your heads
Is there anyone in need of prayer?
Oh Jesus wants to meet you here"
To me that's just really powerful, to be reminded that no matter what we're going through, God still loves us and wants to help. Hearing those words above really touches me, because I know how important it has always been to me to have that prayer time in church. But then, sadly, Mark's song becomes less good, and by that I mean he completely misses the point, ruining everything he had just built up:
"'Cuz we all fall short, and we all have sinned
But where you left, God's grace begins"
That first line is beyond appalling in its simplicity, ignorance, and condemnation, all of which are too commonplace in the Christian Church today. Mark just finished talking about four people who have come to church in need of prayer and love and support [at least two of whom are not themselves guilty of nor responsible for their situation, the first and fourth, I think, are being deliberately left to individual interpretation], but now the blame has been placed back onto these distraught souls, anyway. It's appalling to me because this game of blaming the victim is, sadly, the most common refrain I hear coming from the ultra vocal, ultra conservative Christian right, and I'm dismayed to see this attitude has now creeped its way into my favorite music genre. These people Mark describes to us came to church seeking renewal and relief, not pulpit-imposed guilt for crimes not their own.
This isn't to say that the church should be all feel-good, all lovey-dovey, without any talk of culpability and responsibility for one's actions, but when sin is invalidly assigned as the root cause of suffering when it is clearly not (as was the case for the lives talked about in Mark's first verse), I am forlorned. It's really just that one line that's a kick in the pants. The rest of the song works. The rest of the song, in my opinion, paints a beautiful portrait of what can happen when we come to God, hearts opened, begging for healing and restoration, and the end result truly is beautiful.