Do Words Really Matter?

Back from a short hiatus, now that the vast majority of the work on this big migration is done and things are settling back down…

There is a fairly new Christian song getting some good air time lately from a band called Luminate, titled Come Home. Below are the lyrics:

You’re best friends with the word “regret”
And you’re afraid that your life’s been wasted
So why hope if it’s only gonna let you down?

You don’t think people really change
And you’re a mess and you’ll always be the same
And you doubt if you’ll ever get it turned around

So you’ve been running, searching for something
But you’re looking in a place you don’t belong
But it’s never too late, you can’t outrun grace
No, mercy doesn’t care what you’ve done
So, come home. So, come home

You can try and fix your broken empire
And put bricks on a cracked foundation
But you’d be building castles on the sand
There’s power in the blood of Jesus
And your Father’s screaming “just come home”
And He’s reaching out His hand

I know you’ve been running, searching for something
But you’re looking in a place you don’t belong
But it’s never too late, you can’t outrun grace
No, mercy doesn’t care what you’ve done
So, come home. So, come home

From the shadows, from the wrong roads,
From the darkness, from the unknown,
To redemption, something beautiful,
To a new love, to a new home

It’s a catchy, even heartfelt tune. The problem, though, is the theology. Key in on this line: No, mercy doesn’t care what you’ve done

A huge problem, that is.

First, though, what is mercy? Biblically speaking, it is not getting the punishment deserved. We get a feel for that even in the definition given by Wikipedia of the origins of the word:

(Middle English, from Anglo-French merci, from Medieval Latin merced-, merces, from Latin, “price paid, wages”, from merc-, merxi “merchandise”)

A price is paid. A debt is paid. Mercy not only DOES care what you’ve done, it has paid the price. It cares absolutely, it paid absolutely, and it forgives absolutely.

Are the lyrics that important? As a group presenting themselves as Christians, singing Christian music, I think the lyrics matter. This song, unfortunately, is selling a version of Christianity for which there was no need for Christ’s death…or even Christ himself.

Back from a short hiatus, now that the vast majority of the work on this big migration is done and things are settling back down… There is a fairly new Christian song getting some good air time lately from a band called Luminate, titled Come Home. Below are the lyrics: You’re best friends with the word “regret”And…


  1. I think it's interesting that you bring this up..I was just thinking about this song the other day. For me, what struck me as odd was the line "And your Father’s screaming “just come home”"…it paints a picture of God the Father as powerless and out of control screaming in hopes that someone, ANYONE, will hear…

  2. interesting! i've not heard this song yet, i guess i've been listening to my ipod and not to the radio. Well, i've always percieved "mercy" to be defined as "not getting what you deserve" i checked and found this (cut and pasted below) So if you WERE to personify "mercy" which is the literary technique the song used, it doesn't seem far off to me… mer·cy (mûrs)n. pl. mer·cies1. Compassionate treatment, especially of those under one's power; clemency.2. A disposition to be kind and forgiving: a heart full of mercy.3. Something for which to be thankful; a blessing: It was a mercy that no one was hurt.4. Alleviation of distress; relief: Taking in the refugees was an act of mercy.Idiom:at the mercy ofWithout any protection against; helpless before: drifting in an open boat, at the mercy of the elements.[Middle English, from Old French merci, from Medieval Latin mercs, from Latin, reward.]Synonyms: mercy, leniency, lenity, clemency, charityThese nouns mean humane and kind, sympathetic, or forgiving treatment of or disposition toward others. Mercy is compassionate forbearance: "We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves" (George Eliot).Leniency and lenity imply mildness, gentleness, and often a tendency to reduce punishment: "When you have gone too far to recede, do not sue [appeal] to me for leniency" (Charles Dickens). "His Majesty gave many marks of his great lenity, often . . . endeavoring to extenuate your crimes" (Jonathan Swift).Clemency is mercy shown by someone with judicial authority: The judge believed in clemency for youthful offenders.Charity is goodwill and benevolence in judging others: "But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves?" (Thomas Browne).

  3. Except mercy personified, as in the song, is Christ. And to say that Mercy doesn't care what you've done makes sheer rubbish of His sacrifice.Mercy DOES care, otherwise there is no need for the sacrifice or for Christ at all.

  4. i don't know… i mean, i hear what you are saying, and i guess one might argue that Christ is mercy personified, but i was speaking of the literary technique of personification- giving personal qualities to non-human things, or in this case ideas. And I would argue that mercy ITSELF doesn't "care"! Of course Justice does! But that's a whole nother issue. I think the conflict is a typical truth/grace conflict. The two must be balanced for any kind of healthy life, but sometimes, a person really needs to get ahold of the idea of grace, and mercy, and i think that is what the song is speaking to. The "screaming" God thing is really throwing me off though. God's NEVER screamed at me, thank goodness!

  5. I would say that mercy, even non-personified, DOES care. Take your own definition of "not getting what you deserve"…in you not receiving what you deserve, regardless of what it is or for, there is some form of consideration from the giver of mercy. And because there is consideration of some sort, there clearly *is* some form or caring. Mercy DOES care. Cares enough to consider, cares enough to be merciful, cares enough to be forgiving. 😉

  6. Hey Scott,Stumbled upon the the blog on twitter, and I thought i would chime in! :)My name is Sam, and Im the singer and a songwriter for the band Luminate, Before you read please know this is from my heart and i promise this is not written in defense! Just want to share my intentions and heart behind the song if thats cool!I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I know we all hear and read things a little different. But the overwhelming majority of people who have written me about being moved closer to Christ and their destiny by the lyrics in the song seem to think that the lyric, is saying no matter what "you've done" Christ mercy is waiting for you. The promise of REDEMPTION for the lost sinner, or the follower of Christ running from his destiny! In the song I personify Jesus as JESUS. I didn't intended to personify the word Mercy to Jesus or Christ. We do not deserve his love and purpose for us yet he shows us MERCY, not only that he gives us a part in his Kingdom and Eternity.As for the "Screaming, Just Come Home" line. I wrote that lyric to show the picture that Christ is MADLY IN LOVE WITH US. It was not saying Your father is SCREAMING AT YOU! 🙂 It is a picture of his unaltered passion he has for his children. He is personally crying out for YOU, the individual to come home! It creates an intimate bond with the creator of the universe! And i can remember when reading the words of Christ when i myself was running from God and the words of Christ and paul literally got my attention because the words WERE SCREAMING into my soul. I then realized the love and passion, Christ has for me, and I realized that i am apart of His Kingdom which is greater than my own!Hope you hear my heart, I love discussion like this just wanted to throw this out there! Love ya'll and thanks for posting!! its really good to ask questions and discuss things with fellow believers! so keep doing what your doing!!Also be sure to check out our other songs. You might enjoy them! And i definitely recommend going to a concert. We allow the spirit of God to do what He wants and its not a "Rockstar Show". We just love to Worship! :)Here is a video i posted explaining the meaning of the song , it is from my heart and my personal struggles and honest. As a band we promote the message of Love, and encouragement to people to embrace their purpose in Christ for his Kingdom.;=relatedKeep in Touch, and Know you are loved!Much Love!!!Samuel Hancock

  7. I've never heard the song, but I did read through the thread and found the discussion pretty interesting. I see Scott's point about "mercy", although Sam's explanation seems valid (from a songwriter's perspective, anyway). Sometimes we take license when we write to make things fit/flow/etc. Maybe this wasn't the best use of that license, but I think his intention is on course.That said, the "screaming" line still doesn't make sense to me. If someone "madly in love" with me screamed at me, I'd run far and wide. His intention doesn't match up for me. But at the end of the day, this is his personal expression and if he knows this feeling that's all that matters. The only thing that truly rubs me the wrong way is his advertisement to come to a show and check out his album. There's a time and place for self-promotion, and this was not really the time or the place. I happen to have a show tonight at the Waller Grange at 7pm, but you don't see me plugging in Scott's blog. Oh wait…:P

  8. I'd have to say I agree with Sam on this one. I don't think Mercy cares what you've done. Does He care that you've sinned. Absolutely. But does He care which sin? No. Sin is sin, no matter what it is, and as long as we confess and repent He is faithful and just to forgive us. As far as the "God screaming" part making it look as though God doesn't have control… He can woo, He can speak, He can order steps but as far as a sinner coming home… We have a sovereign will and He can't make a person repent. So I guess that's the one thing He doesn't have control over.

  9. First and foremost, I want to thank Sam for taking the time to join the discussion…especially since it's his song! No worries about folks taking it is being defensive–you have absolute right to explain your intent of the song. You and the band have incredible talent, and despite the criticism, I love the heart and overall message of the song. But as a former youth pastor (and youth volunteer years beforehand, which oddly enough is the link to TWO of the comments above!), the lyrics are so important. And I think Christian music, in exploding as much as it has in recent years, is in jeopardy of doing great harm with the overall lack of depth and/or lack of quality in the words used in lyrics. I would love to see a movement within Christian music to pay as much attention to the words used than the feeling or emotion of a song. But back to the song at hand and my original point: whether or not mercy is personified, there is abundant care. Let me explain…in its simplified form (see Rebecca's post above for more detail), mercy is being treated in a way that is better than what you deserve or even expect. In that act, whether it is the mercy of God's forgiveness or a stranger helping you out in some unexpected way, there is consideration by the other party of your condition, and because of that–and often in spite of our condition–the party offers mercy rather than judgment or harsh treatment.I would absolutely call that caring, and would go further to state that you cannot have mercy without caring because there would be no driving force, no motivation, for the mercy.Sheesh…it's late, and I'm tired, so calling that response good for now! 😉

  10. The points on both sides have been fascinating. However, I would have to agree with Scott. The lack of depth and/or quality in a lot of Christian music today is sad and so I think it is every more important to really assess the lyrics and the heart behind it. I think it's wonderful that we can even have this discussion. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17. @Jennie–To say that God is sovereign but that he doesn't have complete control is contradictory. Sovereign means complete control. And what kind of God would he be if after he has created everything, including us, that now the created has more power than he does…I would encourage you to read Romans, if you haven't yet. Make sure you use a solid translation like the English Standard and have your concordance. Also, follow through with the cross referencing that it comes with. Most importantly, do it prayerfully.

  11. @Marina I have read Romans many, many times and I actually prefer the poetic language of the KJV than other translations. Its what I knew first and therefore easier for me to understand. I'm going to reiterate my statement, hopefully a bit more clearly… God can call whom He wants but its ultimately the sinners choice whether or not to come. He calls, they come. If He calls and they don't come then what? God can not force it, its free will so technically He doesn't have control over who comes to repentence. God is sovereign but He cannot violate His own Word.New subject… As far as Christian Music goes, there is a lot of fluff out there and I am very careful who I listen to (as we all should be.) I am a worship leader and song writer myself and try to my utmost to speak the Word. I've gone so far as to change the words of other worship songs because I don't want to be singing things that aren't true or that lack faith.

  12. @ Jennie–The KJV is very poetic but it is no longer as accurate in translation as it used to be. Your first point was just as clear as your second. If we can agree that before salvation we were as dead men (Ephs 2:1; Col 2:13)then we cannot 'will' ourselves back to life. God, who created us, who knew us before he even created the foundation of the world, would know who would accept him and who wouldn't. "God is sovereign but He cannot violate His own Word." — Where in the Word does it support this in regards to free will? I would love to continue this discussion if you are willing somewhere else? Hey Scott-sorry for changing the subject! 🙂

  13. I just wanted to comment about "God screaming". I totally understand the song writer's meaning. First God speaks to us in a whisper and with gentle nudges but when we do not listen He speaks with a louder voice and stronger nudges. Unfortunately some do not listen until their Lord is figuratively screaming at them. Sometimes things have to get really bad before we will look up and hear the message that God has been speaking to us all along. I have watched God try to whisper to my daughter and I have watched Him 'scream' at her with very obvious consequences to her actions… still she is not hearing… I hope some day she will and then she will see that God has been calling her (loudly) all along.