BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#1036 - "All I Need" by Citizens
NRT's Kevin Davis talks with lead singer Zach Bolen about their new song
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #1036 -
Posted: September 09, 2020 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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Citizens has a very catchy alternative rock-infused worship sound, as evident on the band's self-titled debutThat project, the song "Made Alive", as well as the band's name are all based on Ephesians 2. That type of bold exclamation about the truth of Jesus' grace can be found on each one of Citizens' albums, such as Join the Triumph, one of my top 10 worship albums of 2014.

For me, A Mirror Dimly was easily the top worship album of 2016. That record features the standout songs, "Day by Day," and "Doubting Doubts." Following up Fear, one of my top 10 albums of 2019, the band has returned with The Joy of Being. We were all created to worship and this album gives us several creative and biblically-based expressions. I had the chance to speak with lead singer Zach Bolen about their song, “All I Need.”
 

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

When I started writing "All I Need," it got me thinking about how all our stories culminate in our communion with Christ. At my church, one of the things that are profound for me is when they say, "We’ve reached the high point in the service: communion." I grew up in the church and that phrasing was new to me. Up to that point, my understanding was that the high point was the sermon. I think that spoke to me in a profound way (and continues to).

The gospel story is God bringing together the past, present, and future being fulfilled in Christ. The beauty of this song is that it's telling the story of even before we were fully formed, we were His. He was all we needed then. 
 
Before we were saved, He was all we needed to have breath in our lungs and be sustained. Even with everything going on, getting lost in praise and worship, getting swept up in the hard things of life, we're still in the light of His grace. And, at the end of our lives, going into eternity, He is still all that we need.

I used to think that before I could have communion, I needed to feel awful about myself, beat myself up over my sin because I wouldn't be righteous enough before I could take it. That’s not the purpose of communion. 1 John 3 says, “for whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts.” That is such a powerful thing.

When our hearts bring condemnation, that’s not from God, but a feeling that we transfer to God. For all who are in Christ, God is welcoming us. That’s what this song is about.
 
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV): "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

2 Corinthians 5:16-19 (NIV): "So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here. All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation."

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT): "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." 

Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV): "And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
 
Romans 15:13 (NIV): "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

1 John 3:1 (NKJV): "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him."

Psalm 150:6 (NKJV): "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!"

Psalm 37:4 (NIV): "Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."
 
What is the takeaway message?

God sustains our life. He sustains our faith, our very being, as we go on into eternity. There’s a C.S. Lewis book where he reflects on the Psalms. And he says there are times when an artist or author reflects on something and when they created it, they didn’t think of a certain application and someone else comes along and has their own experience and interprets it another way, that’s the power of truth. You can say something that’s true and it can be true within different circumstances. That’s certainly true right now.

The lyric “in the air I breathe” is a literal statement about God giving us breath. Every time we breathe, it’s an alleluia back to God. We being present to God brings Him glory. Jesus transforming us brings Him glory.

We're going through a pandemic. And, some people desperately need air to breathe. We're all desperate for God to give us air to breathe. It’s deeper than the physical sense. God is our sustenance. He's all we need.
 
The pandemic has slowed down our pace of life. As we consider our new normal, my hope is that as people listen to this song, they will find that slowing their pace of life is more aligned with God’s desire and will for us. God blesses us in many ways.

Confess to others that God is all you need. Hopefully, your confession will create a desire to look outward at others in need and show them God’s love. Sit with God and know He will be with you in every moment. Know that God wants you to live in His light, to be a bearer of His light in this world.
 
Lyrics

From the voiceless dark
I could hear You call my name
To a world apart
To a life of love awake
With a beating heart
And a simple-sighted faith
Safe within Your arms
Quiet by the light of grace
 
There in the cradle of life You held my breath
And here at the table of wine and broken bread I find
 
All I need, You are all I need
In the air I breathe, in the joy of being
Hidden in Your time, until the life ahead
You are all I need, You are all I need
 
When I’m lost in joy
In a timeless song of praise
You’re the sacred voice
Singing purpose into place
Even in the void
In the sudden wake of pain
When the shadows join
Still I’m in the light of grace
 
There in the waves of this life You hold my breath
And here at the table of wine and broken bread I find
 
When my time has come
And I hear You call my name
To a world beyond
To a life of love awake
To a risen Son
To a full and finished faith
Safe within Your arms
Glowing in the light of grace


Closing Thoughts
 
The song's main message is clear: hold on to Christ, as something better is coming. Allow the fullness of Christ's love to dwell in your heart and proclaim the song's truth. Know that being His is enough.

When we feel like we're on shaky ground and we're dealing with uncertainty
life circumstances, rocky economy, world chaos"All I Need" allows us to dwell on the unshakable nature of God. When all else fades away, He will remain.
 
Even when we're saved, we beat ourselves up about failure. We feel unworthy of God's love. That's the point: we aren't worthy. We can't earn grace. It's a gift of unmerited favor from God to His children. Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Despite our sins, God still thinks of us as His children: sons and daughters. That's if we've accepted Jesus as our substitute and Savior.
 
"All I Need" celebrates the freedom we're promised in God's Holy Word. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "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 a new life. We no longer have to live with guilt, fears, or worries. We're born again. This song has that very important message: there is always hope. Breathe it in like oxygen, and God's hope will turn whatever you're going through into something different for His glory.
 
Worship is a heart condition, an emotional connection to the words that we lift to God. Our worship is an offering. God is the One who made the way for us to be with Him. God wants to hear from you. He wants you to boldly approach the throne of mercy and grace to receive what we need from Him. We were dead in our sins and, by grace, we were saved and made alive in Christ.
 
We need to live as children of God. Believing the words of "All I Need" is a great way to work on the disciplines of self-examination and prayer. It takes a while to get quiet in our culture. So, unplug and get deeper with Jesus.

I'm completely convicted by the prayerful lyrics and find immense comfort in this song. Join in and sing, “You are all I need/In the air I breathe, in the joy of being/Hidden in Your time, until the life ahead/You are all I need.” Amen to that.

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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