Windswept with biblical images of sovereignty, Coldplay’s Viva La Vida (2008) is an expression of the final rationalisation to life according to original design—a longing realised in the returned cling to the emblazoned bosom of God—the antithesis of a ‘fallen Adam’ as perhaps represented in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling painting.
So, what does that mean?
Apparently “Chris Martin told The London Times [November 28, 2008], he saw this song about a deposed dictator reduced to ‘sweep[ing] the streets I used to own’ as being ‘really positive.’ He explained that he saw it as ‘more like a turning-over-a-new-leaf kind of song.’ Martin added that its [sic] like I’ve messed up, ‘and I don’t mind being punished, but I can get redemption.’”
A ‘final rationalisation’ indeed. I recall being in a worship service once where I could tell the young person leading, though emotionally taken with God in their music, probably didn’t get the whole self-sovereignty thing he was still probably very much a part of.
It’s like, to realise the true value of life—to be truly authentic i.e. to be at peace with yourself as being truly under God—you need to have been tripped up enough to lose the prideful edge that a silver-spooned upbringing is going to handicap you with. I mean, it’s no good just being hooked in emotionally. There’s no substitute for a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).
I remember a time when I thought I ruled the world—well at least I acted as if I could arrange my destiny. Today I’m not so sure. In fact, I generally don’t want a bar of it. But, who would ever want to be king? To be a self-sovereign would mean a whole eternal deal of responsibility that I’d not want a part of these days. Still, there are so many sucked in and we’re all sucked in situationally i.e. from time to time.
And it’s only the truly saved who can now see the enrolling peace and redemptive bliss available in sweeping the streets alone as compared with commanding the legions to the beckoned call of the personal will.
And this is the original design of life or as close to it in the sight of original sin. The whole world though will rather rule their worlds than give their lives over to the only One, Jesus, who would actually redeem them to the actual Viva la Vida life.
Is there something missing in your life, something deep down—something you can’t quite explain? Well, I can tell you, this life lives, but only by God’s grace and sufficiency (most of the time). Life can only be lived set free from oneself. It’s the only true way to live life. When God’s brought us to the end of ourselves—at last, freedom! And, if we’re normal, we’ll need lots of practice!—a lifetime in fact.
But, then again, no one is more patient than God.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.