[BEHIND THE LYRICS] ‘Preach’

by Emily Medlock

Welcome back to Behind the Lyrics! This week, we’re breaking down one of the most popular songs of the month of February. We’re talking about love…again. Only this time around, it’s about more than a feeling. But instead of Marianne walking away, we have John Legend coming in with what will hopefully turn out to be a big hit. With previous hits like “All of Me” and “Ordinary People,” John Legend has become just that…a legend.

Just this month, Legend released a song called “Preach” and it is blowing up the morning talk shows. Let’s take a look at those lyrics!

Every day I wake and everything is broken
Turnin’ off my phone just to get out of bed
Get home every evenin’ and history’s repeatin’
Turnin’ off my phone ’cause it’s hurtin’ my chest
Hey-hey

How many times have you turned the TV off or closed Facebook due to the bad news that seems to take over these days? Most days, you can feel a physical pain in your chest just hearing about the current atrocities and hate being bred. It hurts so much that you just want to ignore it all together and go on with your own life.

And Heaven knows I’m not helpless, yeah
But what can I do?
I can’t see the use in me cryin’
If I’m not even tryna make the change I wanna see

We are always told to take a stand and spread the word. We can all feel the pain of others, we can all hurt for the helpless. But as Legend says, “I can’t see the use in me cryin’.” Especially if you aren’t trying to, “be the change you want to see in the world.” The quote is credited to Gandhi, a Hindu that we can learn more from than most Christians.

I can’t sit and hope, I can’t just sit and pray that
I can find the love when all I see is pain
Fallin’ to my knees, and though I do believe
I can’t just preach, baby, preach

Again, Legend talks about sitting, hoping, and praying that the world changes. While praying is necessary for change, it shouldn’t stand alone. We pray as we take our child to the hospital, we pray as we sit through a job interview. But we don’t just pray, we take action.

Believing alone can be enough when there is no action to take, but as James 2:14-17 tells us, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 1 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 1 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

All I hear is voices, everybody’s talkin’
Nothin’ real is happenin’ ’cause nothing is new
Now, when all this tragic, and I just feel sedated
Why do I feel numb? Is that all I can do?

Empty words. The Pharisees did nothing but speak empty words. Jesus said to practice and observe what the Pharisees tell you, but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. Meaning, there are those that know their scripture, but do not apply it to their own lives. You can tell your child to brush their teeth ten times a day, but if they never see you brush yours, then they will start to wonder.


As Matthew West would say, “I don’t wanna go through the motions. I don’t wanna go one more day. Without Your all-consuming passion inside of me. I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking, what if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions.”

WARNING: this video is not for children. It contains serious social issues and implied violence.

If you can make it through the video, you’ve taken the first step. But if not, then listening to the song on Spotify will do. John Legend is all about love, as his songs, merchandise, and relationship with his wife Chrissy Teigen show us. But this song does more than tell us how to love one another. It tells us that we gotta do more than that. God knows we’re only human. But that’s just it. He created us as humans and knows what we’re capable of. He gave us everything we need in order to thrive. But we have to use the tools that we were given. We have to listen to our hearts, that still small voice urging us to do more than preach.

Emily Medlock is a freelance writer who specializes in video games, movies, viral content, Christianity, music and YouTube video scripts. Visit her online at emilymedlock.com/blog.

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