You are Worthy (To the One) is a single that was released on iTunes by City Life Worship and is available now! Here’s the story behind the song from leaders Mike Iannuzzi and AJ Luca.
Taking our song “You Are Worthy (To the One)” through the process from songwriting to release was an experience that invited us to study why Jesus is “worthy.” Is it just because He suffered? Is it because He was raised to life? The answer doesn’t seem so obvious, and that’s when we realized maybe we have made a cliche of this. We sing about this, we play to this, and we become seemingly passionate about the picture John paints for us in the book of Revelation (ch. 4) concerning the Throne Room of Heaven. We read about this captivating, glorious, endless space where angels, elders and other beautiful creatures are bowing down and worshiping the One who is worthy, day and night, forever.
Our rabbit hole began first in Proverbs 4:20-27. Verse 23 commands us to “guard our hearts.” The NIV says “above all else” do this. That’s how important it is… What’s so special about my heart? Well, the rest of the verse tells us that the heart is the wellspring of life (cross references Matt. 15:18, John 7:38). The universal law of what you put in, is what you get out, right? But, this is where we begin to fall short. We realize all too late that yes, our duty of prayer and reading God’s word is what roots us and takes us deeper, but we can not work our way into heaven. At the end of the day we fail, we make mistakes, we, simply put, are not worthy on our own strength.
Well, how do I guard my heart?
Immediately, the Armor of God (Ephesians 6) came to mind – more specifically, the breastplate of righteousness. The specific placement of this piece of armor is not a coincidence. When used right in its place, this thick piece of steel is there to guard some of your most important organs, one of them being your heart. It shields us from even the sharpest weapons that may be used against us in battle. Notice, the Armor of God (like any other uniform, or clothing) must be put on and stepped into. The shirt you’re wearing didn’t magically appear on you. No, you put it on. The shoes you’re wearing didn’t just appear and lace themselves. No, you stepped into them. God’s armor is no different. God’s grace and call for us to step into righteousness (purity, integrity, wholeness, blamelessness) is no different. How do we stand blameless before a Holy God? It is the grace of the ONE who loved us above all things. Jesus made a way for us to step into a place of “worthiness” that we otherwise had no place or business stepping into (Exodus 19:23).
1 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline. It’s easy to look at that and think, “Well, he can’t be possibly talking about me.” And you’re right. Because on our own we cannot be those things. It’s only because of the Holy Spirit that is living inside of us, as new creations, that makes ALL of these things possible (Romans 8:11, Mark 16:17-18, Ephesians 6:1). It is because of Him, because He is worthy, that we get to put on His clothes, newly dressed, and be His hands and feet (Ephesians 1:22-23). It is because of Him that we walk with power and love; It is because we get to step into abundant life daily through Christ (John 10:10) that He is worthy. No one else has or could have done that for us. No one can take away what He has done for us. And that’s why, no matter what issues we are facing, He is ALWAYS worthy. He’s worthy of our worship in this moment and forever. He’s worthy of our whole lives laid before Him.
“Before the throne we are undone by the sacrifice of endless love.”
Let that sink in for a minute. We worship before the throne spiritually right now, but we will literally sing to Him in front of His throne someday. This is all because His endless love enabled the ONE who was, and is, and is to come, the firstborn of Creation, the King of Kings, to die for us. And not us as a unit, but each of us as individuals. He died so we could put on that breastplate of righteousness — so we could stand, bow, kneel, fall facedown before His throne, completely blameless and undone. I think the constant undercurrent of the song is that You are worthy, and I’m SO not! Still I get to stand here and worship You, and I will do it forever. And ever. And ever.
“We hear the angels sing…and now Your people sing.”
In Revelation 5 we learn about two kinds of angelic creatures, the twenty-four elders and the living creatures, who continually lead worship to the Lamb who was slain. They sing that He is worthy “to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). These creatures bring before Jesus “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). That’s our worship! Our prayers and songs are purified before the Lord because of what He has done for us. When we bring this song to Him, we are singing with the angels, in real time. But we have something that the angels don’t have: redemption. They can sing that the Lamb who is slain is worthy, but when we sing that He is worthy, we sing as people for whom that Lamb was slain. The angels were always right with God, but we weren’t. We were lost, but He found us, sick but He healed us, dead but He brought us to life. Because of this, our worship has a different weight than the angels’ worship. We are the completely unworthy, the redeemed, the personally grateful, the helplessly undeserving recipients of the mercy of His death and the miracle of His resurrection. That’s why we’ll forever give the highest praise.
MIKE IANNUZZI is a drummer and songwriter for City Life Worship, as well as the creator/author of the Ellipsis blog.
AJ LUCA is a worship leader and songwriter for City Life Worship and a faculty member at The University of the Arts.