The Pursuit of Bravery: John Lucas song spotlight - Son of God

Author: John Lucas Kovasckitz

Tomorrow, those of us in the States will celebrate America's birthday. It's been a few years since I've been able to partake, but the Kovasckitz family tradition is to gather in the small town of Hope Mills, NC for the 4th of July. My grandparents' house is on Main Street, and the annual parade passes right in front of their house. My grandpa, who passed away a couple of years ago, would dress up Newt (his large stuffed gorilla) in his typical Notre Dame Fighting Irish shirt with an American flag in its hand. Newt would sit on grandpa's lap, and would wave at the floats.

The kids (and the more competitive aunts and uncles - Aunt Di, I'm looking at you), would line chairs and towels as close to the road as possible, but we didn't stay in our seats much. We would scramble for the candy thrown by the beauty pageant queens, the firefighters, and the clowns. Later, we would bring the loot to the living room, where the cousins would wager their Tootsie Rolls and Starbursts within fairly intense Texas Hold'em showdowns for the glory and spoils. We would then play croquet or football in the yard until we got too hot, swim, and then repeat until the fireworks that night. Not to be forgotten, Kovasckitzs are well known for their ability to eat large quantities of food, and our power would be on grand display throughout the day.

I have loved celebrating the 4th of July, and I will do so tomorrow. And yet, I know some of you will relate when I say that the holiday brings with it mixed emotions...especially this year. 

There's a twinge of hesitation to shoot explosives into the air and to holler in celebration of an empire that rose to power through the genocide of the lands' native peoples, and on the backs of slaves pulled from their own homeland. I find it hard to raise my glass to a nation that spends more on our military than the next eight nations combined, which has caused untold destruction and death. This year the United States is in quite lonely company with our decision to pull out of the global agreement to acknowledge and to attempt to combat climate change. It is also no secret that I am not a supporter of POTUS 45: Donald J. Trump...

And yet, this is my homeland. This is the land that I love. And I believe that she is already beautiful, and that she can be made even greater. Not the empire, but the land. The people. 

I'm going to spend tomorrow with my wife and family, grateful for the life that I have been given. I'm going to shoot off fireworks for our friends, Josh and Carolyn, who welcomed their newborn son Jonas into the world today. I'm going to drink to the Redwoods, the Grand Tetons, the coast of Washington State, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

God bless America.

God bless America with eyes for the poor. God bless America with a people that stands up against the empire. God bless America with discomfort. God bless America with a thriving economy of love and compassion. God bless America with humility. God bless America with the ability to see those outside of our borders as equals, as brothers and sisters of the human race - even those with brown skin and without resources. God bless America with death and rebirth.

I am no longer able to pledge allegiance to the flag. I can't place my hand over my heart and say the words. The empire - America - is not my God. And I think perhaps often we get the two confused.

When God is on our side, our economy flourishes.

When God is on our side, our military is victorious. 

When God is on our side, our church buildings are full. The offering plates overflow.

Deeper still.

When God is on our side, we have a beautiful partner. 

When God is on our side, we can always pay our bills.

When God is on our side, the disease goes away. 

When God is on our side, we are a white-American-heterosexual-Christian, a former wretch saved by grace, but now practically perfect in every way.

I think God is less concerned with choosing sides than dwelling within. Dwelling within those inside and outside of our constructed borders. That said, I don't believe that God dwells on the side of the empire...the empires of our nations and corporations, our churches, or our own personal empires.

We all hold empires inside of our chests. We personally pledge allegiance to comfort-food-sex-sleep-entertainment-power-wealth-fame.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Give me the bravery to value the kingdom unseen above the empire that is seen.

I recently recorded an album called "A Thousand Cathedrals". Available on all empires of music: Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, Apple Music, etc...

There are a couple of songs in particular that draw on the theme of empires, one of them being Son of God. I've gotten a fair amount of requests to explain a bit of the heart behind the lyrics, which are based on the temptations of Jesus (found in Matthew 4). In the passage, Jesus is tempted by Satan, or the devil...the enemy of God. I see in this being the collection or representation of evil - (at least in this case) it seems that it is an inner conflict, perhaps the ego of Jesus himself. For if Jesus was fully man, he must have battled his own ego, as do we all. On a bit of a side note, I find it fairly interesting that it seems the devil is quite good at quoting scripture...

If you're the son of God...

The song begins with the temptations of Jesus by Satan, and slowly progresses into our own temptations of Jesus. Protect my borders, crush the heads of my enemies. Give me comfort. Protect my empire.

And I believe that the response the song builds to is the response of God, when we act out of a state of empire instead of kingdom. Kingdom being that which manifests God through the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Empire is that which builds a kingdom in our own image: jealousy, lust, selfishness, greed, injustice, revenge...

Away from me, I never knew you.

Remember, my creation, my love, that which is inside of you. Be made wild again. 

I invite you to meditate on the passage, and then to listen to the song as you read through the lyrics. And tomorrow, let us celebrate kingdom and not empire.

Thy kingdom come, Father. Thy will be done. 

Amen and amen.


Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"

Matthew 4:1-10

If you're the son of God
Throw yourself down
Surely your father will heed your call
Surely the angels will catch your fall

If you're the son of God
Then why do you starve? 
Turn the rocks into loaves of bread
Find pleasure in the evening within your bed

If you're the son of God
Then why is there pain? 
Are you weak, or are you not good? 
Oh will you be defeated by a cross of wood? 

If you're the son of God
Vanquish my enemies
Protect my borders and securities
And crush the heads of those who'd rob my peace

Oh praise the son of God
The one who has set me free
He is my passage from the gates of hell
He is my refuge from the infidel

Oh praise the son of God
Who knows my every will
For pleasure is the blessing, child
And I must have my fill

Away from me, away from me
I never knew you
You are the cell that holds my child within
Fling open the doors and be made wild again
Away from me, away from me
I never knew you