Posted in contemporary music, discernment, do something, doctrine, matthew west, theology

Matthew West’s "Do Something" is a terrible, terrible song

There’s a song that many Christians today are enjoying on radio: it’s called Do Something by Matthew West. Apparently the background is that he was inspired by an American exchange student who went to Uganda and saved orphans from a terrible orphanage by starting her own.

I’m inspired by proactive Christians who heed the Lord’s call to become missionaries. And of course the bible says we should help orphans too.

Here are the lyrics to Do Something. I’m going to tell you why I don’t like this song. I’m going to tell you why songs like these saturate the Christian mind with a terrible theology under a guise of a happy tune and moral lyrics.

I think our attempts to live radically can ignore the Bible’s concern that we be radically godly in character. There is no doubt that I am called by God to live sacrificially and generously. My first calling, though, is to know God, to be shaped by him and on that basis to preach the gospel and to live as if it is true. I am called to do all of this right where the Lord has placed me. ~Tim Challies: Radical, A Book Review.Verse 1:
I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how’d we ever get so far down
How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of
People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when

Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

Verse 2:
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God’s hands and feet
But it’s easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves

It’s alright, “somebody else will do something”
Well, I don’t know about you
But I’m sick and tired of life with no desire

Wikipedia

I don’t want a flame, I want a fire

I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
“I’m gonna do something”

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something (yes, it is)

If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing

It’s time for us to do something

Bridge:
We are the salt of the earth
We are a city on a hill (shine shine, shine shine)
But we’re never gonna change the world
By standing still
No we won’t stand still (x3)

Chorus:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when

Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

It’s time for us to do something (x2)

[Matthew West – Do Something Lyrics]
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I’m sure that skilled discerners can spot the theological issues in this song right away.

1. The song is a song about social justice, and the power of man to fix the wrongs in the world. It is a song that sounds good but is actually the opposite of what the bible teaches about man, man’s purpose, God, and sin.

Lyric: Saw a world full of trouble now. Thought, how’d we ever get so far down?
Answer: Adam. Eve. Lucifer. Rebellion. Sin.

Lyric: How’s it ever gonna turn around?
Answer: Jesus. Revelation 19:11, “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war”

Lyric: I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Answer: Like He’s not doing something? He is. John 5:17. “In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (NIV)

Lyric: He said, “I did, I created you”
Answer: UNTRUE. He created us to worship Him and enjoy Him forever.
From the very beginning of the song it shows us how man-centric it is. There are no out-of-control world problems God created us to fix. We are not the solution. We are the problem! God did not create us to fix the world’s problems! There is your first opposite-from-the bible issue. In Do Something, it’s Bizarro World.

Bizarro World: In popular culture “Bizarro World” has come to mean a situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or opposite of expectations.

Lyric: Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of People living in poverty
Answer: Well Jesus just couldn’t bear the thought of people living in sin. Sin is the problem. (Luke 19:10). Poverty isn’t. (Matthew 26:11). If more people sang about people living in sin with the reality of hell, perhaps people would ‘do something’, i.e, witness, instead of throw money at a problem Jesus said would always exist. The problem is not the wallet. It’s the soul.

Lyric: Children sold into slavery, The thought disgusted me. So, I shook my fist at Heaven, Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”
Answer: Child slavery is the new, sexy, socially conscious charity. I’m not making light of the reality of it. But it has emerged of late and it will sink back to the muck of all the other sins and diseases that occasionally get people’s attention, like HIV/Aids, Alzheimer’s, adoption, orphans, child abuse, elder abuse, drug abuse… “Causes” come and causes go. People still need the remedy: Jesus.

Secondly, shaking your fist at God for failing to do the things WE think He should be doing? Is that wise? Is that even warranted? No. Ask Job. God answered when Job asked- (Job 38:3-5)

Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements?
Since you know…
Job and his friends. Ilya Repin. The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.

Since you know all about what God is doing or not doing, Mr West. Since you know.

As Richard Haas said, in his essay “What’s Wrong with Social Justice?

people like these “are trying to play god over God and tell Him what is best for society.”

Lyric: If not us, then who? If not me and you
Answer: It all depends on us? Wow. A heavy load.

Lyric: But we’re never gonna change the world By standing still.
Answer: Ah! There it is! ‘Change the world.’ People, changing the world is NOT OUR JOB. Our job is to witness to the peace and salvation of Jesus Christ, (Matthew 28:19), who has another world for us to dwell in! This is not our home, it is God’s. It is the job of God almighty to change it, when He comes. (2 Peter 3:10).

I could continue about the lyrics, the repetitiveness, (drilling into our minds this false vision of our position in Christ), the man-centric attitude, but you get the idea.

Here is what Justin Woodall said about Matthew West’s lyrics and all songs like these–

The music behind these songs is relatively good. The problem is theological. We have to abandon notions of musical excellence until we can recapture the transcendence and a healthy dose of the immanence of God. We have sacrificed our theology on the altar of music.

After the wrong-headed theology, the second thing wrong with this song is that it subtly disenfranchises the “Wow! Christians” from the “Quiet Christians”. Just as not all are called to be the tongue in the Body, not all are eyes, not all are ears. Some are elbows. Some are toenails. It is the same with the way we live our lives. Not everyone is a Charles Spurgeon. Not all are Martin Luther. Not everyone can be a missionary to China like Eugene Sallee. Not all go to Uganda and start an orphanage.

As the song says, we are all lights, not called to put it under a bushel. Some lights are saving Ugandan orphans. Some lights are on a factory line in Detroit and witness at lunch. Some are quiet, joyful, persevering secretaries in St. Louis. Some are impoverished but fervent recycle scavenge-recycle workers in Calcutta. Some are hospitable shack dwellers in Guatemala. The message of ‘Do Something’ is wrongly two-fold. First, it tells us that we’re here to save the world, and second, it two-tiers Christians, the ones doing something big and sexy, and the rest of us schlubs doing nothing big, sexy, showy, or splashy.

But the quiet influence of a quiet Christian like Larry will change hearts and lives just as much if not more than the splashy new orphanages in Uganda, which will more than likely fall by the wayside in a few years due to corruption, bribery, and lack of funds and materials. Though they will never lack for orphans.

Why don’t these contemporary songs ever call us to persevere in a menial job we hate under a boss who doesn’t care with co-workers who mock, just so we can be the only light in their dark, Godless lives?

Do THAT, and you’re really doing something.

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Further Reading

An Unremarkable Faith

Radical: Book Review by Tim Challies

What’s Wrong With Social Justice?

Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.