I was recently out driving and was listening to 96.1, a station playing songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and some more recent songs as well. One of the songs that came across the airwaves was a song called “One Thing,” by Finger Eleven (from 2003). I had not heard it in a while. This song, while undoubtedly not spiritual, nonetheless struck me with its words. While I will not comment on every lyric, I will lay out the assigned significance for cultural apologetics.
Restless tonight/Cause I wasted the light
This is almost the lament of the unbeliever. I imagine it to be the remorse of the centurion, who famously said, “Truly, this was the Son of God.” (Matthew 27:54) It is the reflection of those who have put off God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ and have finally come to the recognition of the truth. The obvious truth is that rather than wasting the light of the world one should accept it. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not . . . But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:4-5, 12)
If I traded it all/If I gave it all away for one thing/Just for one thing
If I sorted it out/If I knew all about this one thing/Wouldn’t that be something?
These lyrics just screamed biblical passages to me. First and most prominently was Matthew 13:46: “When he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” Jesus was speaking here of the kingdom of heaven; the kingdom Jesus was offering. Second, Mark 8:34-37 say, in part, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me . . . whosoever shall lose his life for my sake . . . the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Being a disciple of Christ, which all believers are called to be, is no easy task. We must be willing to trade it all, to give it all away for only one thing.
Finally, Philippians 3:10 boldly is reflected in these lyrics. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection.” If someone willingly followed Christ by forsaking all, and really did attain unto the knowledge of which the apostle Paul spoke (as we will according to 1 Corinthians ), that would be something. We must never forget to present Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation as a wonder. It’s not an issue of being mystical or praying a prayer. It is a realization of the offense of one’s own sin, and a willingness to confess that sin, repent, and believe the Gospel (that Jesus died, paying the penalty for sin, and God raised him the third day from the dead).
I promise I might/Not walk on by/Maybe next time/But not this time
Even though I know/I don’t wanna know/Yeah I guess I know/I just hate how it sounds
In our kidnapping of the song this is perhaps the most depressing of the lyrics. Clearly, it is the unbeliever who does not want to follow Christ after all. The cost is just too great. “Maybe next time,” he thinks to himself. “But not this time. Later. When I’ve got more time. When I’ve done what I want to do.” Luke says of the rich young ruler, “And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” The young man’s sorrow was in direct proportion to his wealth. It was in fact his wealth that brought him down.
I speak with unbelievers all the time. Many times, they feel they simply have no need of religion. “My life is just fine without God,” they say. “I respect that it’s good for you, and I believe in God. I just try my best.” But their best is not good enough, just as my best is never good enough. It cannot erase the bad that was done. A perfectly good God cannot endure evil in his very fellowship. It must be punished. This punishment was taken on by Christ. Jesus’ perfect sacrifice paid the penalty for all of our sins. Appropriating that makes it logically possible to be reconciled to God. Because God is love, anyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
I know this song is not about God or the Bible. But we must be willing to use what resources we can. For some, this is nothing more than a song. For others, this is a microcosm of their lives. I pray they will reconsider.
 The song is probably about some girl he had a chance with, but removing a line from the song here or there, one is left with a very biblical-sounding song!
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