Can I Really Call You My Brother? - Seth Ready

Posted by Seth Ready on 21 July 2016

It’s been almost a year since we first heard this haunting song by our label mates The Brilliance called “Brother”. We quickly fell in love with it. What a song! And how timely a message! And our label wants us to cover it? How awesome is that! Just as my mind was off to the races about all the possibilities, my wife’s sober wisdom hit me like a bucket of cold water. “Yeah, we can’t do this song.”

“What do you mean”, I asked. “You just said you loved it.”

“I do, but I can’t honestly say that I see my brother when I look into the face of my enemy, can you?”

She had me in a corner. “Of course not”, I thought to myself. “I see an enemy—someone I’d rather avoid, or punch, or have something bad happen to.” I continued my chain of thoughts, “she knows it’s my pet peeve to sing songs that aren’t actually true or don’t connect with reality—just ‘pretty words’—and now she’s using that against me.” But of course, I knew she wasn’t really against me. She was sincere in her wrestling and she had a good point. And it was a point I didn’t think I could or should ignore. So, I asked if we could take some more time to pray and think about it. And being the gracious person she is, she said yes.

Over the next couple of days it began to dawn on us what the purpose of the song was in the context of our ministry, and how we could carry it with honesty. Even if not one hundred percent true at a descriptive level in our own lives, we knew that we wanted it to be true of us. We wanted to be the kind of people who could look at an “enemy” and see a person made in the image of God. We also wanted to be committed to praying for, and caring about, their wellbeing. Isn’t that what Jesus calls us to (See Mt. 5:44; Lk. 6:27-28)? It eventually became clear that this song is a prophetic voice that cuts through the ideas that our fallen nature has grasped onto. It also acts as a transformative mechanism in the sense that by thoughtfully singing the lyrics and meditating on the truths of Jesus’ teachings that underlie them, it actually serves to change our thinking patterns toward those we deem enemies.

One more thing appealed to me as someone who tries my best to get folks to think “world-viewishly.” We noticed that people with all sorts of ideological views sensed that something is right about this song—Christians as well as non-Christians. There is something objectively, morally superior to love rather than hate, and there is something about being human that binds us all together and confers dignity and intrinsic value on each one of us. While this seems obvious to most people—at least those who have grown up in a culture that was heavily impacted by Christianity at some point—it raises questions about which worldview(s) can ground such concepts. Objective moral values, along with human worth, dignity and equality fit nicely within a theistic framework—particularly the Judeo-Christian worldview where we are said to be made in God’s image and held responsible for how we respond to the moral Law that is rooted in God’s good and loving nature.

But it is hard to see how they can be grounded in say Hinduism with its Caste System, or Buddhism where the sense-perceptible world and its distinctions tend to be viewed as illusions; or in atheism where human beings are merely animals and morality is simply a leftover byproduct of socio-biological evolution that helped us survive at some point in the past and may still have some survival utility, but is in no sense incumbent upon us as an objective standard outside of our own brains. While I can barely scratch the surface of this topic here, suffice it to say that when you pull at the thread in this song it will inevitably take you to Christianity. In this way “Brother” turns out to be a great entry point to discussing the biblical view of humanity, our predicament, and God’s solution.

So…for these reasons we decided to do the song. Little did we know that it would be the first single off of our album, and that just as it was going out to radio stations, racial tensions in our nation would rise to fever pitch levels. As an interracial couple in the South, we’ve bumped up against this on several occasions. But to see it reach the level it has in our nation in 2016 is shocking and devastating. There were a couple days during the past few weeks where we felt so weighted down that it was hard to go on with our normal day-to-day activities. Add to this the recent terrorist attacks and the increasing division over politics and, things can seems truly overwhelming. We need a reminder of what we have in common as human beings.

We need a reminder that as Christians, this really is our opportunity to be the light of the world. We need a reminder that in a very real sense, Jesus does have the answers for the world today. And we think that “Brother” is a timely resource for this. Our prayer is that God would use this song to cut through the noise and present a vision of hope and peace that the world desperately needs right now.

-Written by Seth Ready of Seth & Nirva

Click here to check out their latest album! 

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