singing ‘Come As You Are’ through the Word

this post stemmed from a recent bible study i attended on Exodus. the worship chose this song for the call to worship, and the lyrics tied in well to the passage we were studying. yet, it tied in in the way that forced me to rethink what i meant when i sang the song. hopefully through this wrestling, processing, interpreting you might be encouraged to sing this song in a Biblical, Christ-centered manner, and wrestle with all other songs as well. our songs must always come as a response to who God is and what He has done as revealed in Scripture.

Song: Come As You Are, by Crowder

Main Scripture: Exodus 5-6

Chorus:

So lay down your burdens
Lay down your shame

I begin with the chorus since the links to the passage are (to me at least) most clearly seen here. The song speaks of burdens and shame we are called to lay down, and an encouragement for those broken to lift their face. What does Exodus 5-6 have to say about this?

The premise of Exodus 5 is as such: the people of Israel are slaves in Egypt, and Moses and Aaron have just come before Pharaoh to ask for a leave of absence, that the people of Israel might worship God in the wilderness. Pharaoh replies in 5:4-5 ‘Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens. [… …] Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!’

What do we learn about slavery here?

  1. it is a burden
  2. it keeps people from rest

We are no longer slaves to Egypt, but we are slaves. Christ himself makes the parallel between slavery and sin in John 8. The Jews asked him ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say ‘You will become free?”. And Jesus replies stunningly, not to correct their false premise that they have never been enslaved, but to correct their false assumption that they are not slaves now, that ‘everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin’.

So what is this burden Christ came to set us free from? It is sin! That’s what He came here to do! This speaks to more than physical, mental or even emotional burdens – it cuts to the very heart of why Jesus Christ came to earth, that was to free us from sin and the judgement a sinner lives under. No longer are we a shameful people living under an oppressive taskmaster who heaps upon us ludicrous demands, but we now live under a loving and righteous King of Kings, in whose presence we have full confidence of acceptance through Christ. And in Him we have a rest, a rest that endures

Chorus:

All who are broken
Lift up your face

Moses and Aaron were initially received well by the Israelites (Exodus 4:31), but by the time Pharaoh increased their burdens in response to their request to leave, they were a broken people. When Moses returned to tell them what God had said after their increased burdens, ‘they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery’ (Exodus 5:9).

How quickly we lose sight of our God! One way of singing these two lines is to point unbelievers to the cross of Christ, for only He can rescue us from our burdens! He alone can give the greatest hope to a broken people. Yet another way to sing these lines is as followers of Christ, we must continually lift our faces and behold God and His glory fully revealed in Christ, lest we become like the Israelites and become encumbered and distraught once again by our burdens. This we do by remembering what God says about Himself and what He will do (Exodus 6:6-8),

  1. I am the Lord
  2. I will bring you out from under the burdens
  3. I will deliver you from slavery
  4. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgement
  5. I will take you to be my people
  6. I will be your God
  7. I will bring you into the land promised
  8. I will give it to you for a possession

All these things God did for the Israelites, and all these things He has done for us today through Christ. The parallels are staggering.

Verse:

There’s hope for the hopeless
And all those who’ve strayed

I doubt there were any Israelites who enjoyed their slavery under the Egyptians. Yet we see hints of this here, not that they enjoyed it, but that they desired it more than the freedom God promised them. Exodus 14 records the cry of the Israelites before crossing the Red Sea, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’

Oh how quickly we forget! How quickly we stray away, how much we have strayed since the day we entered this world! Yahweh, who had revealed Himself in His might and power to the Israelites constantly in the chapters before, has now been spurned and rejected.

Is this not us? That even after we have tasted of God’s goodness and glory we stray away, seeking our former masters and our former burdens. Yet for all our rebellion, God is so so patient with us. God splits the Red Sea, and the people of God cross over safely. The cycle of complaining and rescue is seen constantly throughout the OT – how then do we read this? Is God a pushover?

No! Paul puts it clearly in Romans 6, ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?’ It’s so important we realise that we are freed to live as God’s people. ‘I will take you to be my people, and I will be Your God’.

There is hope for the hopeless, that is Christ who gives us the greatest hope of freedom from sin and eternal fellowship with the Father. There is hope for all those who’ve strayed, on two levels:

all of us, who since our birth have strayed far from Him
all of those saved, who stray in our daily walk of holiness
Christ gives hope to both.

.

This wasn’t meant to be a line by line exegesis of the song, but more of an intentionall processing of the song through the Word of God. The Word of God should be our sifter – we sing nothing that it does not allow through, and what it allows through we sing in light of what it has passed through, that is the Word of God.

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