BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#510 - "Greater" by MercyMe
Bart Millard talks about how his revolution of God's grace has inspired this new single from Welcome to the New.
 


MercyMe, comprised of lead singer Bart Millard, guitarists Mike Scheuchzer and Barry Graul, bassist Nathan Cochran, and drummer Robby Shaffer, have topped the charts for more than a dozen years since they released their multi-platinum single "I Can Only Imagine," which is the most downloaded song in the history of Christian music.

Welcome to the New has been one of my most anticipated albums of 2014, and I'm pleased to say that it exceeds my expectations. This incredible band has once again released their newest best album. It has a very upbeat and contemporary musical style inspired by the music that the band enjoys that will immediately cause you to worship and sing along with these ultra-talented musicians. 

The album has a comforting and cohesive theme as each song threads the message of "welcome to the new." The first single, "Shake," has been a hit song since it released, and I spoke with Bart Millard about my favorite song from the album, the Mumford & Sons-like stand-out track, "Greater." The song is as much fun musically as it is lyrically inspiring, mashing up an indie rock style that reminds me of Rend Collective mixed with Paul Simon.

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

My kids have memorized the album already. Nothing warms your heart more than to hear your kids sing this message. The thing with "Greater" is that my middle son Charlie is a lot like me. In fact, I went through a lot of grief counseling these past few years. My grief counselor said if I ever want to know what I'm like when in a healthy family to watch Charlie.

One day I was trying to tell my son, because he has a stuttering problem, we were talking, and I said, "Buddy, people may make fun of you, but you have something inside of you that is telling you that you're something different, that you're stronger than that and that you're beautiful." 

We were at church one day and some kids made of him and he was kind of down. I told him, "You know what I've told you. That's not them. The enemy may be using them, but these kids are good kids. They're not coming after you, it's just the enemy is taking shots at you. He's taking shots at you because you're something special and he's afraid of something you may do."

I've always told him to set his mind on things above, and he started singing this song, "You are holy, righteous and redeemed." I just started bawling. From time to time I can hear him singing this song in the house and I've thought that's the reason to make a record.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song? 

Romans 11:36-12:2 (NKJV):
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV): "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV): "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

1 John 4:4 (NKJV): "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
  
What is the takeaway message of the song and album?

Since the last song you featured by us was "The Hurt and the Healer," I would say that was at our lowest point. If you look at each album as a chapter, that was our low point in our lives personally and spiritually. We had a lot of things happen where we felt like we couldn't take any more heartache, pain and suffering. A lot of the questions in that song are "Lord, why does it have to be this way?" I think this new album is the answer to a lot of the questions from that record. I've always said that suffering is a gift. Without it, I don't think you can truly appreciate grace. This is the breakthrough for us. The title "Welcome to the New" represents the message. The album is about grace from top to bottom.

If there is one song that musically and spiritually represents the place where we are, the grace message of joy, this is the song. Every once in a while the message, the joy of what you are saying, and the music lines up just right. If you can't get your heart rate going with this song, then you probably aren't really living. At 41 years old, I feel like I am just starting to grasp who I am in Christ. I grew up with a legalistic background where the harder you try, the better God likes you. Even though it was all about grace, there were always more things you could do to make life better. A couple of years ago, a dear friend reminded me that there is nothing in our life that we can do to make Christ love us any more than he does. Because of the cross, you are a brand new creation. The works you do for Christ are like breathing. You don't need to do anything for Him to get right with God, but because you are right with God.

That really turned me upside down as I hadn't heard anything like that. I'm a guy who started a band, and I have done a lot of things in my life to try to get God's attention. It's not about that at all. The grace message unpacked and unfolded in my life. When you realize that you don't need to try so hard, you start to see a little more clearly that you can never do enough. The work was finished on the Cross. That's the breath of fresh air that inspired this whole album. You can't worry about the heart that can't be trusted. You have a brand new heart and mind in Christ. I can't sabotage that relationship I have with Jesus and be taken from His hand. I want to tell anyone who will listen to welcome them to the new. Musically, I have always been a fan of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, and we've been such an established band with an established sound, we didn't want to fix what wasn't broken. This time around, we wanted to make music that we loved. Style-wise it fits with what we listen to currently and what we love.

Lyrics:
Bring your tired
Bring your shame 
Bring your guilt
Bring your pain
Don't you know that's not you're name
You will always be much more to me

Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I'm not right
But that's alright

'Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed 
When others say I'll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world
In the world
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world

Bring your doubts
Bring your fears
Bring your hurt
Bring your tears
There will be no condemnation here
You are holy, righteous and redeemed

Every time I fall
There'll be those who will call me
A mistake
Well that's ok

There'll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn't matter
'Cause the cross already won the war
He's Greater
He's Greater

I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how He sees me
And it makes me love Him more and more
He's Greater
He's Greater


This great song and album challenges all of us to live to for Jesus as a "living sacrifice." All of us are absolutely dependent on God.  He is the source of all things and He works in all of us to bring glory to Him. God wants us to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices" out of gratitude for the forgiveness of our sins. God wants us to be "transformed by the renewing of our mind" and "set your mind on things above."

This song and album celebrates the freedom we are promised in God's Holy Word (2 Corinthians 5:17), "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 

Christians are new creations on the inside. The Holy Spirit gives us new life and we don't have to live anymore with our guilt, fears or worries. We are born again and we need to live as children of God. Too often we get wrapped up in our circumstances and get down on ourselves with negative thoughts and allow the Enemy to define self-worth. Jesus died on the Cross to set us free from the battle of our minds, from sin and death and wants us to have abundant life in Him.

When you allow yourself to accept that "there will be no condemnation here, you are holy, righteous and redeemed," that's when you can start to really live "because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." (1 John 4:4) Amen to that!

(Watch Bart talk about the song 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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