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#497 - With Every Act of Love" by Jason Gray
Jason talks about the reality of Heaven and the Kingdom of God, and what that means for our daily life on this world.

Ever since I first heard "Blessed Be" by Jason Gray from his album All the Lovely Losers I was hooked by the emotional and biblical messages of his songs. In fact, that song was the 8th song I featured for my "behind the song" devotional article series which started in March 2008. I've since featured nine more of Jason's songs and now this is our 11th devotional together, making Jason the most featured artist over the past six years and throughout 497 installments of this series.

I'm always excited to hear new music from Jason and "With Every Act of Love" from Jason's album Love will Have the Final Word has once again captivated me as it features Jason's unique brand of gourmet lyrical phrasing embedded with the truth of the Gospel for those "with ears to hear." 

In Christ we truly assume His righteousness, just as Christ assumed our sin. It is commanded by Jesus in Matthew 5:16 to "let your light shine" so that others may praise God based on seeing the power of His life in us. We need to celebrate that freedom with our hands reaching out to others in Christ and show His light in us and let Him shine in us. That's what this song is about. I had the privilege to speak with Jason about the song.

Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.

One of my producers told me that the first couple of tracks became the filter that he listened to the rest of the album through. I was very intentional about opening the album with "Laugh Out Loud" and "With Every Act of Love" in hopes that it would set a hopeful tone for the weightier and more desperate songs that follow.

For this song, it's an idea that I wanted to write about for a long time. We had enough songs for the album, but I didn't feel like we had the lead single. I was really stressed out about it. I was in a difficult place personally, so trying to write a big pop song seemed like an insurmountable task. Then, to top it off, I damaged my voice. I had a co-writing meeting with Jason Ingram, to get together one more time before recording the album. I had been at an artist retreat and learned about how we can jumpstart our creativity by instituting limitations. Every breakthrough begins with limitations and can force you into directions you wouldn't otherwise go. 

Not having my voice, I had taken a tool off the table going into a songwriting session. I had scraps of lyrics and I plunked out a melody on my guitar. It forced me to look for a hookier melody. By the time we had the meeting, I was OK, but the process began without my voice and a forced limitation that helped me discover a melody that I wouldn't have found otherwise.

The heart and idea of the song was inspired by the N.T. Wright book Surprised by Hope, which is one of the most worldview changing books I've ever read. It challenges what we believe about the afterlife and what it says in Scripture. He said in the book that there is language that has crept into our churches and hymns. It is a challenge to the sentiment that "this world is not our home; we're just passing through, so little of what we do here matters." That language is meant to remind us of a deeper reality and an unseen Kingdom that we are citizens of. That type of language can tempt us to imagine a theology of abandonment and evacuation. The Gospels are not about that, but about deeper engagement and renewal. 

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Luke 11:1-4 (NKJV):
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." So He said to them, "When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

Matthew 13:18-21 (The Voice): This is what the parable of the sower means. It is about the kingdom of heaven. When someone hears the story of the Kingdom and cannot understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away whatever goodness and holiness had been sown in the heart. This is like the seeds sown beside the road. You know people who hear the word of God and receive it joyfully--but then, somehow, the word fails to take root in their hearts. It is temporary. As soon as there is trouble for those people, they trip: those people are the seeds strewn on the rocky soil. 

Matthew 18:20 (NKJV): "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."

What is the takeaway message?

The book and this song is about looking at the verses in the Bible about the Kingdom in the context of engagement and remind us that the Kingdom is also about the image in Revelation of the new heavens and new earth, and a reminder that we aren't just passing through this world, but that the new earth will be here and this will be our home. That means that everything that we do now matters. Every act of love is building the Kingdom that is coming and being established and every act of love will last forever. Everything matters.

The Kingdom will come, but the Kingdom is also coming right now and we are invited to participate in it. With every act of love we are allowing the Kingdom to come into the little part of the world that we influence and we can consecrate it to the Kingdom whether we are building a home for the poor, or building a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for our kid. Whether we are caring for those in need, or doing laundry for our family, if we're doing it as an act of love, then it's eternal, it lasts forever and reserves a part of our hearts for the Kingdom. I wanted a song that communicated the dignity and importance of doing everything with love and recognizing how inspiring it is that it will last forever. 

Sitting at the stoplight
He can't be bothered by the heart cry
Written on the cardboard in her hand
But when she looks him in the eye
His heart is broken open wide
And he feels the hand of God reach out through him
As Heaven touches earth

Oh - we bring the Kingdom come
Oh - with every act of love
Jesus help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come

There's silence at the table
He wants to talk but he's not able
For all the shame that's locked him deep inside
But her words are the medicine
When she says they can begin again
And forgiveness will set him free tonight
As Heaven touches earth

God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you
I said, God put a million, million doors in the world
For His love to walk through
One of those doors is you

Oh - we bring the Kingdom come
Oh - with every act of love
Jesus help us carry You
Alive in us, Your light shines through
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come
With every act of love
We bring the Kingdom come

For Jason's newer listeners, this album is loaded with the type of musical hooks that have made him a radio fixture from his string of hit songs, including "More like Falling in Love," "I Am New," "Remind Me Who I Am," "Good to Be Alive" and "Nothing is Wasted." For his longtime fans of his entire body of singer-songwriter work, you'll be thrilled to add this album to your collection. 

From All the Lovely Losers to Love Will Have the Final Word, I hear maturation in the subject matter with lyrical depth and musical layers that have made Jason among my favorite male artists, along with Bebo Norman, Shaun Groves and Josh Wilson. In fact, if you like singer-songwriters who lay their hearts on their sleeves and sing about the truth of what it means to walk with God and work out their salvation with fear and trembling, then don't miss out on one of Christian music's most treasured artists, Jason Gray.

This song reminds me to make Jesus the Lord of my life and for every activity and thought in my life to point to His complete Lordship. When you sing the words, "God put a million, million doors in the world / For His love to walk through / One of those doors is you" the devotional thought we should all be thinking is whether we are submitting our lives to that truth or just singing the words. The sentiment of this song represents something that the global Church can all sing loudly, "Oh - we bring the Kingdom come / Oh - with every act of love / Jesus help us carry You / Alive in us, Your light shines through." Amen to that!

(Watch the lyric video here.)

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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