You are not going to like my complaints about these top chart songs I’m about to deconstruct that shows a major flaw in them. However, no one is perfect, not even Christian song writers so we need to not assume everything that “Christian Artists” sing is correct. The song I am going to talk about today is Prodigal by Sidewalk Prophets. So without further adieu, here is my objection to Prodigal.
Prodigal is simple to point out the error. The main point of the song is to use the parable of the prodigal son to talk about how God will forgive you no matter what. Which is true, and great. The chorus goes like this:
Wherever you are, whatever you did
It’s a page in your book, but it isn’t the end
Your Father will meet you with arms open wide
This is where your heart belongs
Come running like a prodigal
Come running like a prodigal
The only problem in this version of the prodigal son is that the prodigal son was not the one running. The father is the one that came running to the prodigal son. As recorded in Luke 15:20, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
Who was running? The father was running. I think whoever was sitting around writing this song was stuck on how to say this in a song. “Come running to your prodigal,” or “The Father runs to the Prodigal,” no it sounds off. This song is about you so…let me think…oh I got a catchy beat but the words just need to be rearranged to fit the song and let’s just throw out teaching the bible story accurately. Thus was born, Come running like a prodigal with millions thinking, yea I just have to run to God like the prodigal did all the while misunderstanding and deluding this important parable.
THE FATHER CAME RUNNING TO THE SON!!! It irks me every time I hear this song. I don’t have to run to God, he comes running to me. The moment you decide to repent and simply turn around, there is God off in the distance taking a full on sprint toward you as if he had been doing that the entire time, you just needed to turn around. It’s only a matter of minutes, seconds before the power of the Spirit slams into you with a full embrace of the Father who has been waiting for his son to return.
It also answers many people’s questions about forgiveness. Can I return to God? They will look at a text in Hebrews and wrongly think the author in chapter six is telling them, “It is impossible for you to return again to repentance.” Out of the context of the chapter, yea it sounds like once you have walked away than that is it for you. However, the author of Hebrews already knows the story of the prodigal son so he wouldn’t contradict Jesus’ words, (Biblical Interpretation 101: free lesson, you are welcome). Can you return to Jesus? ALWAYS! That is the point of the story, when you repent, God comes running full sprint to you. It is all God’s grace, work and love at the cross that redeems and restores you. All you have to do is have faith that your father’s presence is better than the current circumstances you have found yourself in.
What makes Christianity unique and unprecedented in all of history and every religion and philosophy is the fact that all the work is done by God. We created the problem of sinning against God, walking away from him and going our own way. Another way to say, “Sin separates you from God,” is “Sin is walking away from God.” I covered sin and our need for Jesus’ atonement in my previous post which you can find here. It is all God and nothing of you. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). As the reformation mantra proclaims, “Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, Soli Deo Gloria.” All the work of God can be understood by what we find in Scripture as it pertains to the work of faith, grace, Jesus’ work on the Cross, and all to the Glory of God the Father.
In Truth & Love,
Matthew J. Diaz
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Image Credit: Sidewalk Prophet Lyric Video