If you keep up with the New Song Blog, you may have noticed that I’m a fan of intriguing titles and lyrics that say much more than the words say alone. So, I can’t say I was disappointed when the leaders of the Worship Community chose a new song to go along with current sermon series (The Path of Discipleship) and it turned out to be “Love is War” by Hillsong United. The title alone stirs up many thoughts, and the lyrics weave imagery related to both love and war throughout, taking a journey that depicts some of the unexpected fights we face in following Jesus and reminds us of what God has done to help us in these fights.
The story video, which you can play above, explains the overall idea behind the song, so I won’t repeat everything said by the songwriter and instead will look at the journey experienced in the lyrics of the song and some of the “much more” behind the lyrics (you can view all the lyrics by clicking the WorshipTogether link above).
The first verse starts with the source, God and His grace. It tells the story of Jesus humbling himself and becoming a man (Phil 2:6-7) to identify with mankind’s struggles and fulfill God’s justice and mercy. He lived the perfect, sinless life on our behalf so that we can be seen as perfectly righteous by God and took all of our failures and sin, paying the penalty for them on the cross to satisfy the justice of God.
Next, the pre-chorus is the part of the song that portrays the fight for grace or the fight to rest in God’s love. It is a fight because even though at times we seem to really know God’s grace and love, we tend to stray from believing it. The lyrics here allude to how it actually takes focus, effort, and God’s help to stay grounded and trusting in the grace of God and His love for us.
In the chorus, the lyrics turns to more emphatic war words as they lead the worshiper in declaring they will “fight to follow” Jesus and “fight for love,” which has multiple meanings. I believe the writer is speaking not only of the fight to believe God’s love, but also the fights to love God supremely and to love others (Mark 12:30). The last phrase in the chorus reiterates how these fights are really the fight for grace and basing all our hope on Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The second verse is all about the fight for love. The fight to get rid of all the things that distract and hinder us from seeing how amazing God is and putting Him first. It has one of my favorite phrases in the song, “let Your love be my companion in the war against my pride.” I guess that line stirs me because I have recognized that pride is usually behind every issue in my life. I also really like the metaphor of love being a companion. It speaks not only of God’s love being the cure for our pride, but also how Jesus is for us and right there with us in the fight, not giving up on us when we stumble but picking us up and helping us carry on.
Finally comes the climax of the song with the bridge. The bridge sums up all the previous lyrics of the song and again wraps it up in the story of the gospel. Jesus is the one who truly “took the fight.” He bore our sin and shame on the cross, dying in our place so that we could live (1 Pet 2:24). The grave could not hold him (Acts 2:24) and now we can live in Him and follow Him.
I hope this song encourages you and helps you fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12).