Saturday, February 29, 2020

My Very Human Reaction to Jonathan McReynolds' "People"

If you ask me who my favorite artist is, without hesitation, my reply will be, “Jonathan McReynolds.” I’ve been #TeamLifeMusic since 2014, and it seems as though his pen gets more oily with every album. From “No Gray” on 2012’s Life Music to “Comparison Kills” on 2018’s Make Room, Jonathan has always had a unique way of humanizing the Christian experience. Last Friday, he released a single that, in my opinion, is his most human song yet—and, quite fittingly, it’s called “People.”

Image source: iTunes

The first time I heard “People,” I was caught off guard, because the track begins with a chorus of voices—not singing, but talking. It’s a muffled jumble of words we might hear in a public place, like a mall or a crowded hallway or city street. It’s hard to make out everything that’s being said, but the first thing I hear is, “People think they can just say anything nowadays, and I don’t understand it,” followed by “I don’t think you’re good enough,” and, “I just don’t believe Christians.” And then, “Maybe your music could be a little bit more spiritual.” As Jonathan begins to hum, another voice says, “You’re just a bit too...different.” And another: “I don’t like it.” And yet another: “You should take my advice.” Finally, “I just expected more from you...” I paused here and said, “Makes sense so far: A song called ‘People’ that’s clearly about, well, people.” Pressed play, and Jonathan’s “Shhh...” silenced the crowd of voices. And then, the first verse. I wasn’t ready! *Kevin Hart voice*:

They are the best and the worst You’ve created
Loving and hating and opinionated
Loners in basements and those congregated
Deliver me...


Me: “Wow, Jon. DEEP, straight out of the gate. Whether loving or hating, on computers in their basements or in the pews of the church, everybody always has an opinion, solicited or otherwise.”


Far from the peaceful shore I was sinking
Deep in the ocean of thoughts they were thinking
Don’t know what validation I was seeking
Deliver me from
People, people...


Me: “WHEW! This! Why do we drown ourselves in their thoughts? Why do we crave their validation so badly? And who are “they,” anyway?”


When You said You could heal me from anything
Did You mean people?
Deliver me

‘Cause I can’t point ‘em out
I won’t say their names
I don’t know the damage
Or which one to blame
It’s just people, people
Deliver me...


At this point, I had tears in my eyes, because the chorus made me remember who “they” were for me: The children who bullied me mercilessly from kindergarten through twelfth grade, some of whom I didn’t identify until I was in my early 20s, and a few I still don’t know about. Kids used to pick on me because, due to a mild case of cerebral palsy, I walk with a slight limp and my eyes wander a little. I had buried that pain years ago with no intention of ever digging it up again, but here comes this song. Jon, if you’re reading this, stop writing my life! I can’t deal.

*deep breath*


She was the reason I smiled in the morning
He took the last bit of joy I was storing
That’s too much power for anything human
Deliver me...


These lyrics made me think about how much of the bullies’ negativity I had internalized. I brushed it off as it was happening years ago, but this song brought it back, and it really stung. The reason I chose to shrug it off back then was because, as much as it hurt me, I refused to give them power...but ignoring it doesn’t make the pain go away. The song’s bridge helped me make sense of it all:

The hurt are hurting
And the broken are breaking
And the ones who had their joy taken away
Are out here taking
From other people...


Hurt people hurt people, and broken people break others. Because the world didn’t give me my joy, the world can’t take it away...but the world tried to. People are people, and they do people-ish things, but the song itself isn’t about people at all. The song is about how the people-ish ways of the world and the focus on all the things we expect “them” to do and be for us causes us to take our eyes off of the Father. If we allow “their” voices to be louder than His voice because of our people-ish tendencies, we will inadvertently start to become “them.” In 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV), God’s Word commands us, “Come out from them and be separate...Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” So Lord, “Forgive me when I’m one of those people.” Deliver me...not just from them, but from me, too.

In Jesus’ name,


Check out “People” below, and make sure you’ve got tissue close by. You’ll need it.


  1. Wow!Wow!Wow!This song and this blog were both so transparent and equally necessary and compelling for such a time as this! Good job Jonathan Mcreynolds and Siobhan McIntyre! is the best!!

  2. Powerful song @jonathanmcreynolds .I thought about you, Siobhan and the kids that bullied you. When I wanted to go to that school and snatch those kids for hurting you. You always said it was okay. It brought tears to my eyes. But God turned it around and delivered you. Some of those bullies grew up to admire the young lady you have become. Be kind to one another. You never know who God has called someone to be.

  3. You nailed it as usual. I read this with tears in my eyes remembering how people bullied you when you were little. They just don't know they owe God and you a debt of gratitude. Nobody wants to see their child hurt by the cruelty of others.You had to talk me down a lot. You gave them so much grace... more than they deserved, honestly. But God. You are an exemplary woman of God. @Jonathanmcreynolds continue to let God use you to heal His people.