It has been some time since you released your song, O My God, on your album, Synchronicity. In fact, as I write this, it’s been 34 years. You are probably as shocked as I am at how time flies. But it does fly and I wanted to write to you a response to that particular song.
Please note that when you first released the album, I bought it on cassette tape and listened to it over and over on my Walkman, and eventually by Teac Cassette player, with Kenwood amp and Klipsch speakers. Synchronicity was one of my favorite albums and I believe, your Magnum Opus with the Police. So know that the words are burned into my conscious, which is frustrating on one level.
Since that time, I have become a Christian, and every now and then, those lyrics pop up into my head and I find myself singing along with you, O my God, you take the biscuit, treating me this way… I wish that I could get those lyrics out of my head and replace them with some of the lyrics of the great hymns of Christianity. But alas, your words seem to prevail.
It is for this reason that I’ve decided to answer you. I know, who am I that Sting would really care? No one in particular. But I love the challenge and think that my regular readers might enjoy the exchange, even though it’s one sided. So with that in view, I am taking your lyrics from O My God and giving them a biblical response.
Here is your first stanza:
Everyone I know is lonely
And God is so far away
And my heart belongs to no one
So now sometimes I pray
Please take the space between us
And fill it up some way
Take the space between us
And fill it up some way
I like several things about this stanza. The first is that you do recognize there is a fundamental problem in the world that is evidenced by so many people being lonely. I’m not saying that this is the biggest problem in the world, but evidence that there is some fundamental problem in our lives. This same problem is seen in the fact that we are separated from our Creator. For a vast majority of humanity, there is an inseparable distance between us because of the fundamental problem we all have as humans.
I also appreciate the fact that you believe there is a God. I don’t know if your views have changed since the 1980s when you wrote those words, but based on what you write, it is good you do acknowledge the existence of our Creator because He was not only the One who decreed the distance between us and Him, but also the very One who closed the gap between us and Himself.
Now, I know this is the part you are probably not going to like. Up unto this point, you might have found this somewhat interesting and even amusing. But to address these issues from a Christian perspective, we must do so using the Bible.
This distance that we all have between God and man was brought about by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Please hear me out. Before you go and scream that I believe in fairy tales, realize that Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Eve as well. We know this from His reference to them in Matthew 19 in dealing with the issue of marriage and divorce. When the Pharisees questioned Him about this issue, He appealed to the fact that we are created beings, with Adam and Eve being the first couple, and that they were created with marriage as part of our design. Therefore, if Christ believed in an actual couple called Adam and Eve, should not Christians who follow Him, believe the same?
This is important to the argument, so don’t get sidetracked on the issue of divorce. The argument I’m making, is that when Adam sinned, all of mankind fell in Adam’s sin. He was our representative, therefore his fall was our fall since we are his descendants. As a result of this sin, Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, and the separation between us and God was introduced into the world.
It was not intended to be so. God created mankind for fellowship and communion with Him, but our sin keeps us separated from Him.
The beauty is, that God did answer your prayer in stanza one long before you uttered it. You asked that He would fill up that distance, and He did so through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the One true Mediator between God and man. He did this through His perfect obedience to the Law in life and His death on the cross for sinners, so that, those who look to Him in saving faith will be saved from their own sin. The immediate result is that the distance that was once there, is now removed through Christ’s atoning work and we enter back into fellowship with God. It really is an amazing act of love on the part of our Creator. We sinned against Him, and He provided His own Son to deal with that sin, so that we could enter back into the fellowship that was lost in the Garden.
Your next stanza:
Oh my God you take the biscuit
Treating me this way
Expecting me to treat you well
No matter what you say
How can I turn the other cheek
It’s black and bruised and torn
I’ve been waiting
Since the day that I was born, fill it up, fill it up, fill it up
This verse really is difficult because you are responding to the tragedies in your life and the lives of others, as we often do when it comes to God. We ask Him “why did You let this happen to me?”
I hope that I’m not reading too much into your statement, but at the core of it is the notion or belief that God truly is sovereign and in control of all things, otherwise, if He were like the limp-handed god of the liberals, He would be powerless to do anything at all in order to help us or hurt us. If that is the case, then why complain when He was powerless to do anything about our situation?
However, if your understanding of God is that He is all-powerful, and sovereignly controls all things for His own glory, then you are correct. Let me state that again: He is in control of all things and has decreed all things that come to pass for His own glory. In view of this reality, when our lives don’t go well, or something tragic happens in our lives, it seems as though God has not acted kindly toward us and we grow angry.
The problem is that this view is quite myopic. It is one-sided and lacks the complete picture. In one of the oldest books of the Bible, we see Job saying and asking some of the same questions. He had done nothing to warrant the tragedy that befell him, and wanted to ask God why God would do such a thing. In his sinfulness, Job accuses God of being unfair to him. But when God did speak, Job realized his accusations against the living and true God were misguided and wrong.
Sting, what you are dealing with is what even Christians struggle with as well: that is that God is truly God, and we are not. I know that this is cliche to say this, but that is because it is a rich reality. The Apostle Paul in Romans 9 puts it this way: But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
In other words, God can do with us as He pleases. To stand and shake our fists at Him is quite futile and only brings His scorn. We don’t like this since we have bought into Satan’s lie in the Garden of Eden, that we can be like God. Plus, this desire to be like God, or little gods, is mixed with the way He has given us dominion over the earth. We are to take dominion over the earth. But because of our fallen-human nature, we lack the ability to do so and end up trying to take dominion over one another.
The point is that when we get angry with our Maker, we need to acknowledge that anger to Him in prayer and look to His word for a better understanding of the fallen world in which we live. You have already demonstrated your belief in prayer from this verse alone. But are you willing to actually look at God’s word without the judgmental attitude? Are you also willing to accept, despite your rich intelligence, that you need instruction in the things of Christianity from someone who actually believes as a Christian?
What I mean by that is that most skeptics come to God’s word to sit in judgment of it, instead of letting it sit in judgment of us. We think we have the right to judge God for how He has decided to do things. This is a grave mistake. We all need instruction in God’s word. We all need to study it to understand why things are as they are. We also need instruction to see that He has provided an answer to these questions we have. We may not like those answers, but they are worthy of inquiry.
On to you next verse:
Fat man in his garden
Thin man at his gate
My God you must be sleeping
Wake up, it’s much too late
Jesus dealt with this in Luke 16, with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Notice that in that parable, the fat man did get his just reward. Not because he was rich, or fat, or whatever. But he only sought to serve himself as most everyone does.
The beauty is that Lazarus was taken into heaven upon his death. Was his reception in heaven based on his poverty? Not at all. It was based upon faith in Christ alone for salvation alone. While the text does not say this, we get to this point theologically. In other words, when you look at the bulk of what Scripture says about salvation, it comes through God’s grace toward us, by faith alone, in Christ alone. Even that faith is a gift from God Himself. Therefore if Lazarus was taken into heaven, it was based upon his faith, not his poverty.
The point is that it is not the rich or poor who earn their way into heaven, but those who trust in Christ. This is important to you, because you have become immensely rich. You are now the fat man wedded to your wealth. For salvation to come to you, you must turn from your wealth and trust in the poor man who died on the cross. He will hear your prayers, and while you have breath, it’s not too late.
Do I have to tell the story
Of a thousand rainy days
Since we first met
It’s a big enough umbrella
But it’s always me that ends up getting wet
Nice ending to the song. I like the reference to your earlier song as well.
Well, I hope this has been helpful.
Timothy J. Hammons