A Chicago-area church is bringing a new twist to the “prosperity gospel.” According to the Chicago Tribune, Lighthouse Church of All Nations in Alsip, Illinois, awards weekly cash prizes to lucky churchgoers who are sitting in the right seat.
I am not going to lie: When I first heard Mary Mary’s “God In Me,” I loved it. It quickly became one of my favorite songs from their latest album, The Sound. It stayed in constant rotation in my personal playlist for about a month. But it wasn’t in heavy rotation because I thought it was profound. Not at all. It was more so because the song made me feel good. It has a catchy beat attached to words that are innocent enough that I could feel free to jam on it rather than “Blame It on the Alcohol.” But now, with the release of the single and the video on the airwaves and the Internet, my feelings have changed.
You see, upon the umpteenth listen, I realized that the song, while expertly produced for the ears of the Christian (or non-Christian) who isn’t sold on a traditional gospel or CCM sound, features lyrics that could be misconstrued as prosperity gospel. At first I thought I was reaching by drawing such a conclusion, but upon closer inspection of the song, I find that what sisters Erica Campbell and Tina Campbell claim as the “God In Me” could be confused as preaching a sort of prosperity gospel.
Verse 1: You’re so fly you’re so high
Everybody around you trying to figure out why
You’re so cool you win all the time
Everywhere you go man you get a lot of shine
You draw like a magnet better yet I have it
Everything you wear people say they gotta have it
From the sweat suit to the white tee to the Gucci
You can probably say people wanna get like me
Hook: But what they don’t know is when you go home
And get behind closed doors man you hit the floor
And what they can’t see is you’re on your knees
So the next time you get it just tell ’em
Verse 2: You see her style you think she nice
You look at her whip you say the whip tight
You look at her crib you thinks she’s paid
You look at her life you think she’s got it made
But everything she’s got the girl’s been given
She calls it a blessing but you call it living
When it comes to money she can be a hero
She writes them checks with a whole lot of zeros
Now the first verse is a little bit closer to what I’d expect someone to claim as evidence of the God in them. But it all goes downhill from there, as the duo trades inner-man change shown outward for the accumulation of goods as evidence of the God in them.
Side note: I will not take away from the fact that Mary Mary is giving it up to God and acknowledging that He is the source of all they have. That’s not what I take issue with. I take issue with the fact that it seems they are steering people toward a false understanding of God by boasting about prosperity as opposed to the real power of God in the believer’s life. This could present a problem for the babe in Christ who doesn’t have a deep knowledge of what God in them is supposed to look like. They may be deceived into thinking that the prayers of the righteous availeth much Gucci, nice whips, and lots of money. But in reality, “God in us” reveals so much more than the sum of our possessions. It’s dangerous to portray God to the world as one who does a good job of blessing us with things before you show the world how He broke you before He could give you any of these things.
I realize that this song has amazing crossover potential, since it sounds like any old secular song; and if you put the video on mute, you might think you were watching a secular video. But therein lies the problem. This video and song have potential to be played the world over, and it may be some people’s first time hearing about God. So you have to wonder, What will someone get after listening to this song? A healthy understanding of God, or a fractured one that highlights the part everyone can get excited about?
I worry that the sisters are not presenting a holistic view of what the God in a person looks like. They are not wrong to say that the God in them draws people to them, blesses them with fly clothes, hot whips, money, and cool friends, but God is so much more than that. I want people to see that He is to be worshiped not for the things He gives us but for who He is. And really, if we are going to worship Him for giving us something, let’s worship Him for Jesus.
In the end, I respect Mary Mary for making music that bridges the gap. I am a fan. Last year, I gave The Sound high marks in an earlier UrbanFaith review. I just want these talented young women to make sure they are being more careful with their theology when trying to be “all things to all men.” Like many of their colleagues in the industry, they need to be ever cognizant of the fact that everything they do as gospel artists must communicate biblical truth in a way that does not mislead unwitting fans or misrepresent a holy God.