One of my favorite bands in recent memory is Nickel Creek. Brother, sister, and close friend, the three started playing together as little kids on the bluegrass festival circuit, and hit it pretty big in their late teens and early twenties with a self-titled debut album. For a little while, they had videos on CMT and national exposure as a rising star. Then, because they are musicians and not stars, they’ve fallen off the popular radar, which is probably how they like it.
Regardless of all that, they have a great song on that debut album called “Reasons Why.” The lyrics go something like this:
Where am I today? I wish that I knew
‘Cause looking around there’s no sign of you
I don’t remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead
I’m holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this short of a love that we once knew
I’m calling this home when it’s not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed
Standing on a darkened stage, stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses, but I have my reasons why
We get distracted by dreams of our own
But nobody’s happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall
And climb high to the highest rung, to shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses, I have my reasons why
It is a tremendously evocative hook for me: “Others have excuses, I have my reasons why.” I thought of it last night while reading NT Wright’s The Last Word
. In the UK, he titled it Scripture and the Authority of God
, and I don’t know why he decided to go against his usual and endearing pattern on this side of the pond, but that’s a whole different blog. He writes, “Those individuals and churches which have ‘heard God speaking’ through a passage of Scripture, and have acted accordingly, tend to be those where division is most apparent.” (The Last Word, pg. 33)
Could this be any more true in our brotherhood? Our identity is based on the belief that our group and no other understands the Bible correctly and worships according to its dictates. That understanding has made us very insular: not only have we often failed to see our own weaknesses, we’ve believed that the weaknesses of other groups pertained solely to them. We could learn nothing from the failures and weaknesses of the denominations.
“They’re denominations, you see. Of course they’re messed up, and they don’t even know why. They’ll give you a bunch of excuses, but if they’d just read their Bibles, they’d get better.”
Unity DOES matter, we all say. Others have excuses (why they’re not unified); we have our reasons why.
PS – Watch Nickel Creek perform this song here!