If you have watched any football this season, you have seen the Beats Audio commercials with some famous athletes listening to Aloe Blacc’s “The Man.” You’ve heard the chorus. Let’s talk a little more about the track and it’s theological implications. First, here are the lyrics.
The song begins with the hook which is repeated throughout the track, “Well you can tell everybody / Yeah you can tell everybody / Go ahead and tell everybody / I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man / Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am / I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man.” This line is the most well known portion of the song and is where we will begin our discussion.
The singer is calling themselves “The Man.” This is the crux of the entire song. What does it mean to be “The Man?” Large? In charge? On top? The top dog? All of those thing combined generally. Calling yourself the man displays arrogance, revealing a character trait about the person saying it. They believe themselves to be the best. Arrogance is not a virtue.
The Bible speaks clearly to the fact that arrogance is not a virtue (1 Samuel 2:3). Thinking highly of yourself is criticized over and over in the Bible (Proverbs 16:5, Proverbs 26:12, Romans 12:3). You should not boast in yourself, but in the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24, 1 Corinthians 1:31). Those who put themselves on this pedestal, loving themselves, are fooling themselves. They are lying to themselves about their position.
The singer addresses this fact in the very first verse when he says, “I believe every lie I ever told.” The singer believes the lies about himself, lies that he truly is “The Man.” This lie will lead to self-exaltation and, eventually, a fall.
Christ speaks about this in his parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. In it, we have a Pharisee praying publicly in a spectacle and exalting himself when reaching out to the Lord. Then we have the tax collector who says the simple prayer, “God, turn Your wrath from me—a sinner!” This humility is necessary in prayer and in life. The Lord will bless those who are humble. Those who are haughty trying to gain public praise – the public praise is there reward (Matthew 6:5).
In the rest of the first verse, Blacc says, “[I] paid for every heart that I ever stole / I played my cards and I didn’t fold / Well it ain’t that hard when you got soul / Somewhere I heard that life is a test / I been though the worst but I still give my best / God made my mold different from the rest / Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed.”
On the first line about hearts stole, he’s right. Our sin, our lies, everything will catch up to us and enslave us (Romans 6:16). He also continues to talk about his perseverance and how the Lord made him unique. The Lord wants us to persevere through the hard times (James 1:12) by relying upon Him (Matthew 11:28-30). He is our rock, our salvation. We can not sanctify ourselves. The Lord also did make us unique as individuals, knowing our specific details from the beginning of time (Psalm 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5). He’s correct about that.
But, Blacc then uses the fact that he is unique and persevered through life as a reason that he is the man as opposed to recognizing the fact that he is blessed. The Lord blessed him by guiding him through trials, tribulations. The Lord blessed him by making him unique. This doesn’t make him the best, it makes him an image of the invisible God who is blessed for that reason alone (Genesis 1:27).
Blacc continues in the second verse to say that he is the answer to your issues in life. He says, “I got all the answers to your questions / I’ll be the teacher you could be the lesson / I’ll be the preacher you be the confession / I’ll be the quick relief to all your stressin…”
True relief is found in Christ, not in temporal things of this world. He is the bread of life who fulfills our needs (John 6:35). He is the living water who quenches all spiritual thirst (John 4:13-14). He is the Creator and above all things (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16). He is the first born over all creation (Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:6). He understands our plight as He lived it (Hebrews 4:14-15). He is God (John 10:30).
A person is not the one who will provide you perfect comfort, answer all your questions, or be the perfect teacher. Christ fits that role. He is perfect, no one else who ever lived fits that bill. This includes Aloe Blacc.
Cling to the Creator, the Christ who is above all things and humble yourself before the Lord. He is in large, in charge. In truth, Jesus is the Man.