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#207 - "I Am New" by Jason Gray
Jason Gray talks with NRT's Kevin Davis about what makes him new.

Singer-songwriter Jason Gray has an uncanny ability to absorb images, emotions and truths from a variety of sources--theology, literature, relationships, his own struggles, pop culture, poetry, and more--and pulls together those diverse strands into a unified whole. Over the years he has developed a razor sharp knack for saying deep things in a way that the rest of us can relate to.

His latest effort, Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue is a thought-provoking collection of artful, emotional and radio-friendly tunes that achieve a high level of accessibility without sacrificing any of the Jason Gray’s personality or creativity.

Gray’s previous project, All The Lovely Losers, dealt with the issue of brokenness; now he takes the subject a step further, dealing with brokenness that comes with confession. Jason’s fixation on redemption is based on his story, discovering his calling as a singer despite a chronic stutter as a child. He discovered his weaknesses are nothing to hide; in fact, because of our weaknesses God’s grace and strength are perfectly revealed.

I had the great opportunity to interview Jason about his current single “I Am New.” Since it’s my sixth “Behind the Song” devotional with his songs, I’m honored that Jason is now my most featured artist over the past few years. I’ve previously written about “Blessed Be”, “The Cut”, “For The First Time Again”, “More Like Falling In Love” and “Love Has A Name.”

Regarding “I Am New,” what's the main message of the song?

In my opinion, “I Am New” is the most important song on my album. I think we talked about this in the past, but I went through a significant writer’s block for about three years. That was broken when I wrote the song “The Golden Boy & The Prodigal.” That’s the next most important song on the album as it relates to my own journey. It almost didn’t make the new album because it doesn’t have a chorus, and six verses, but I was happy when I presented songs to my label, they said, “That’s an important song and needs to be on the album.”

“I Am New” is the answer to the problem I bring up in “The Golden Boy,” which is identity. It’s interesting that I write more than I know. In the best moments I’m writing as a response to what the Lord is doing in my life and I don’t understand the implications yet. I finally realized the significance of this song at a retreat that I attended. I don’t write about the things I’ve figured out, I write the song and then years later I realize that I needed to grow towards the message and application in my life.

What Bible verses did you use in writing the song?

2 Corinthians 5:21: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Colossians 1:10-14: And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

What’s the take-away message for listeners?

To me, I increasingly understand the idea that we are who we think we are. That sounds like a new age idea, but it’s actually Scriptural. As far as our identity in Christ, I was talking to a friend about this idea. I only know how to come to the Lord as a servant. I’ll even use the term “son in Christ” as high church language. I’ve had difficulty realizing myself as a son of God. Many of our identity problems come from our inability to understand ourselves as sons instead of servants. Thinking of the Prodigal Son, he leaves, spends all the money, and then when he is hungry and wants the food the pigs eat, he thinks like a servant. He decides to go home as a hired hand, preparing the speech of a servant that all has to do with performance and failure to please his master. He’s preparing his speech and his dad sees his son, not a servant. His dad runs to him and accepts him as his son, not a servant.

Most of us are living in a servant mindset. We live with shame and guilt when we blow it and aren’t pleasing the Lord. Part of that is natural and correct to want to please the Lord. It goes wrong when we lose the context of thinking like God’s sons and daughters. We need to remember that our righteousness doesn’t come from fulfilling duties like tithing, serving, praying or reading the Bible. We need to grow beyond being a hired hand and remember that we are children of God. This song proclaims that we are children of God and He came to set us free from our shame. Part of the newness of being part of God’s family is believing that we share in the righteousness of God because of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.

Here are the lyrics:

Now I won't deny
The worst you could say about me
But I'm not defined
By mistakes that I've made
Because God says of me

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

Who I thought I was
And who I thought I had to be
I had to give them both up
Cause neither were willing
To ever believe

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

Too long I have lived
In the shadows of shame
Believing that there
Was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn't see me the way that I do
He doesn't see me the way that I do

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I'm dearly loved
I am new

I am not who I was
I am being remade, I am new
Dead to the old man, I'm coming alive
I am new

Forgiven beloved
Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy
Reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy, this is our new name

This is who we are now…

In identifying with our sin, Christ paved the way for us to become identified with the righteousness of God. It is not merely that we acquire a right standing or do good works; we actually become righteous. For in Christ we truly assume his righteousness, just as Christ assumed our sin.

If you like folk-style music, then Jason Gray is for you. I recommend picking up this album and All The Lovely Losers to get the full experience of Jason’s amazing music. The basic message behind Jason’s songs is that “the added benefit is that people are able to see how God's grace works in a real person's life. When we come clean about our brokenness, Christ becomes the star of our testimony and not us.” I’ve been very blessed to enjoy Jason’s songs and get to know his heart for God. “I Am New” is a profound song to sing to God with gratitude as we celebrate the gift of our salvation. Happy Easter!

(You can watch the video of this great song here.)

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. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org.

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