“So Will I (100 Billion X)” The Good and The Questionable
On Sunday we watched the following video as an illustration of the sermon from John 1:1-3:
WHAT IS HELPFUL ABOUT THIS SONG
There is so much to embrace and enjoy about this song. I am edified by this song because of the grand and sweeping Biblical meta-narrative it artistically and emotively proclaims. It begins with creation and prods us to attempt to ponder what it might look like for God to make everything from nothing by the sheer force of His speaking; the movement of His breath. It invites us to to imagine and remember how big God really is. He always has been, and always is, and always will be majestic and grand and mind-boggling. But then it reminds us that this cosmic God is personal and merciful and loving in that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us to live perfectly, and die for the sins of many (John 1:1-3, 14; Mark 10:45). Finally, the song models for us to respond by faith with surrender and worship.
We need more songs like this to stretch our minds to see as much of the fullness of God as we can. We need more songs that biblically provoke awe and wonder.
WHAT IS QUESTIONABLE AND CONCERNING ABOUT THIS SONG
I chose to use this video in our worship gathering with some trepidation, concerned there might be a few lines that would distract and maybe even mislead. To be clear, I don’t mean to be uncharitable and overly critical. After all, I am a teaching preacher who sometimes says things that don’t roll off the tongue the way I want them to. Having said that, there is something to be said for being as precise and clear as possible about the truth we sing, teach and preach. So I hope my critique of this song models the need for precise and biblical thinking, but with a spirit of humility.
- “With no point of reference” After the worship gathering I was sharing with one theologically astute man some of my hesitations about the song, and he pointed out one possible deficiency that I had not thought of when the song says that God created from nothing when there was “no point of reference.” The truth is that there was a point of reference, namely, the Triune God. To be fair, what I think the song was referencing was that there was no point of reference as it relates to time and space. But there is an important lesson to be learned from the observation that God was there. Just as we often ignore the creator in favor of the creation, so it is always possible to forget or underestimate God. If time and space never came into being, God would still exist as the ultimate point of reference. As a matter of divinely declared truth, He is the only reality that ultimately matters, for in Him are all things and He is in need of nothing (Acts 17:22-31).
- “Evolving in pursuit of what You said” If you go to YouTube and search “So Do I”, you might see a video titled: “So Will I (100 Billion X) mentions evolution. Should we stop singing it?” My concern is there are those who see the word “evolution” as a sort of anti-Christian word, and therefore, be distracted from the good the song delivers. To begin with, let’s look at the context of the aforementioned line. “As You speak, a hundred billion creatures catch Your breath, evolving in pursuit of what You said.” Now I don’t know what the author(s) believe about Darwinian, macro-evolution. Maybe they see no conflict between the Bible and this scientific theory. But it seems to me in the reading of their lyrics that they might be talking about micro-evolution. I say this because they mention creatures that have already been created and now have the breath of life as given by God. Then they write about those creatures evolving in pursuit of what God has said. I, like most people, believe creatures are capable of adapting to their environment as it changes. This affirms the wisdom of God. Do I believe we are advanced chimps? No. I believe God created mankind in His image, distinct from all other creatures (Genesis 1:26-28). But I do believe in micro-evolution. That is how I interpret the song, and therefore, it is not a problem for me.
- “A Hundred Billion Failures Disappear” What is wrong with this line? After all, I have most certainly failed. I am the chief of failures. Wait, that isn’t quite right, is it? Paul said, “I am the chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) All have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). But I have failed, along with everyone else, because I have rebelled. I have fallen short of the glory of God because I am a sinner who has willfully sinned (Romans 3:23). It is worth emphasizing that we needed the cross not just because we tried for holiness and came up short, as though it were only a lack of skill or effort, but because we are rebels in rebellion against a perfect and holy God. We all have shook our fists at the LORD God. I wish the language was biblically stronger about the reason that Jesus lost His life on the Hill that was created through Him.
- “Like You would again 100 billion times” My good friend, Ryan Smith, said something like, “Why is there always just one line you have to change in the songs that Hillsong writes?” It seems that way in this song too. If I were going to change one line in the whole song, it would be this one. In the final crescendo of the song it declares the passion of God for people as displayed in the gospel and then says, “If You gave your life to love them, so will I.” That’s fantastic. The love of Christ displayed on the cross for us should propel us to love others by sharing with them the good news of Jesus. Amen and Amen! But then we hear these words: “Like You would again 100 Billion Times”. I wish they would have just ended it with the previous line. Here is my beef. I can’t think of a time in the Bible that it says, or suggests, that God would send Jesus to die again if need be. First of all, the Bible is clear that the work of redemption is complete and perfect. It is finished (John 19:30). It was a once for all endeavor. There is no need be for another try. Second, there is only one Son of God. There is only one Jesus. Yes, I suppose it is a nice sentiment, but it is not like Jesus is “the one” of the Matrix, only to find out there have been six others before Him. Isn’t Jesus enough? Isn’t He enough to convince us of God’s love and mercy and grace and justice? Why is there a need to try to improve on God’s incomprehensible love (Ephesians 3:18-19)? If you doubt God’s goodness toward you, there is no need to guess that He might do it again to show His deep love. Just look to the once and for all, “it is finished” work (Romans 8:32). God loved His glory and humans so much that He got it right the first and only time with His One and only Son. Enough said and done. Let’s celebrate and rejoice in what is finished, not what will never be needed.
One final thought. Music is such an important vehicle of truth. The Psalms are proof of that. But so many songs today are wrong, superficial or unclear. If our theology is strong and sound, we can listen to a lot of songs with clear and biblical thinking. More than being nit-picky, I hope I have modeled that with regard to a song that has really helped and challenged me to love Jesus and glorify God more and more. Let’s listen to and sing the song, but let’s think biblically as we do.