Michael Tait takes us behind the scenes of the powerful lyrics to the theme song for God's Not Dead 2.
The God's Not Dead 2 soundtrack features today's top Christian artists, capturing the emotion and message of the film through meaningful, encouraging music. It includes the hit singles "Guilty" and "God's Not Dead" by Newsboys, plus hit songs from MercyMe, Audio Adrenaline, Hawk Nelson and many more, including "This is Amazing Grace" by Phil Wickham and "Dead Man Walking" by John Tibbs, which have previously been featured as behind the song devotionals.
Newsboys have already had a busy year, releasing God's Not Dead: The Greatest Hits and their new album Love Riot, featuring "Guilty," "Crazy" and a cover of Bethel Music's powerful worship song "No Longer Slaves." The songs and movie are great continued encouragement to stand up for our faith, following up the bold proclamations "Let our faith be more than anthems, greater than the songs we sing" from hit song "We Believe." I had the chance to speak with Michael Tait about "Guilty."
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
This is one of those songs that you get to be part of creating that I call a world class song. For us, "We Believe" and "God's Not Dead" are in that vein, along with "Guilty." They are all cause and effect songs. There is an impact to those songs. The lyrics remind me of being a black kid growing up in DC, going to high school, best friends with TobyMac-- we prayed in school back in those days. We pledged allegiance to the U.S. Flag. Somewhere along the way, things got cray-cray. As my grandma would say often, "honey baby, the world's going to hell in a handbasket." I'd say we've lost the handbasket.
If you do something immoral in our society and against the grain today, people are praised, and are considered courageous and brave. That's crazy. They are sinning against God, and they are doing something immoral. But we let it slide. There's no feeling of remorse or anything based on the act they've done. If you try to do the right thing and follow Scripture, and are a morally wholesome earthling, you're called a goody two-shoes or a "Jesus Freak," which is fine with me because I am.
Kids and adults today are persecuted for living out their faith and religious freedoms. The movie taps into that. What if it gets to the point that the courts are deciding what's right in the way we serve our God and live out our faith? That would be a real debacle. That's not a far-fetched scenario at all.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Romans 1:16-17(MSG): "It's news I'm most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God's powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God's way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: "The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives."
Romans 1:16(NKJV): "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."
Matthew 5:14-16(MSG): "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand--shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."
Acts 20:24(NKJV): "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
Acts 24:20(VOICE): "If these men here have some crime they have found me guilty of when I stood before their council, they should present it."
Psalm 33:3(VOICE): "Sing to Him a new song; play each the best way you can, and don't be afraid to be bold with your joyful feelings."
2 Corinthians 4:5-6(NIV): "For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
What is the takeaway message?
Don't be ashamed of the Gospel. As a believer, like you, all we are asked to do is live for our faith. People are dying for their faith in the world today. I did a book years ago called "Jesus Freaks" about martyrs put into modern day language. We aren't being called to die for our faith like that young girl did in Columbine in 1999. What if we were? I can shamefully tell you that sometimes I have trouble living for my faith, let alone dying. We need to choose to live for the Gospel and live for God.
Our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and several of the founding fathers were pastors. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were believers. I live in a country where there are more Baptist churches in the state of Texas than the rest of the world, and you're going to tell me I can't pray to the One True God? I know there is only one true God, and only Jesus Christ rose from the dead. If I can't speak about Jesus in this country, that's a problem. I am frustrated about it, but it is a holy anger.
I was inspired by the movies, and when we recorded the song "God's Not Dead," I had no idea what an impact the song would have on young kids, five and six years old. Every night we do a show, hundreds and thousands of kids tell me that is their favorite song. There's nothing better than being a conduit, used by God, to reach a generation. Millennials too. God has used this band, Newsboys, to reach generations of people. All that said, the movies all started with the song, which is every believer's creed that we can get behind and rally behind, like "Jesus Freak." I've been blessed to be part of both songs. They are big statements, and have an effect on people who don't believe in God. People fighting for their faith in the courts, jobs and schools can be encouraged to say "God's not dead, and we're not ashamed of the Gospel and here's why." There is a greater purpose. We are living in the last days. God is coming back soon.
Lyrics: When did it become breaking a rule
To say Your name out loud in school
When Your name's the only one
That sets us free
When did it become incorrect
To speak the truth about life and death
When Your life gave us all eternity
Even if it gets me convicted
I'll be on my knees with my hands lifted
If serving You is against the law of man
If living out my faith in You is banned
Then I'll stand right before the jury
If sayin' I believe is out of line
If I'm judged because I'm gonna give my life
To show the world the love that fills me
Then I wanna be guilty
I'll rise up and honor You
I'll testify to the good You do
'Cause Your grace and mercy have
Guilty by association
Guilty of being a voice proclaiming
Your ways Your truth Your life
I'll pay the price to be Your light
I want to be guilty
Christians are called to display their faith in their words, letting their "faith be more than anthems," and also in their actions once they are changed on the inside and become followers of Jesus. We are challenged in God's Word in Matthew 5:14-16 as believers to not hide the light of Jesus that is in us as His redeemed sons and daughters, and to remember that "God is not a secret to be kept." I find Paul's exhortation in 2nd Corinthians 4:5-6 very relevant to us as believers today and a strong reminder of why we all need to live for Jesus.
This song and the movie God's Not Dead 2 lights a fire in Christians to know and proclaim what you stand for, no matter what the world tells you to do. Don't compromise. Don't forsake God or be ashamed of the Gospel. Stand up for what you believe. There is an infectious urgency to this song. As we live in these last days, it is very important to think about what you would be found doing if the Lord were to return today.
The children's song "This little light of mine" gives the word picture to not hide our light "under a bushel." That's a wonderful testimony to the Truth of God's Word which consistently tells us to not be afraid to be bold, and to not be ashamed of the Gospel. This song is a great way to express that joy, thankfulness and dedication to God that we should all have as followers of Jesus. This song connects with the saying by Saint Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary."
The song proclaims, "Even if it gets me convicted, I'll be on my knees with my hands lifted," which is a great example of Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." People like good art, and they're going to seek it out even when they are lost. When they encounter the truth of these lyrics, my prayer is that they'll think about their own stories. One day there will be no more tears, no more sorrow and no more pain. Until that day, as Christians we can be the salt and light by living out the words of this song. As this song and film challenges, are you ready to stand for Christ and sing loudly, "Guilty by association, guilty of being a voice proclaiming Your ways, Your truth, Your life. I'll pay the price to be Your light, I want to be guilty." Amen to that!
Watch the music video below.
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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