By Tim Lilley
Journey of Faith
It doesn’t seem possible, but 25 years have passed since one of my favorite songs first started popping up on the radio. Singer Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” ultimately made it to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. That remains quite a feat for two reasons; one, it was on Osborne’s debut album, “Relish.” It’s rare, although not unheard of, that first efforts achieve that kind of popularity – let alone three Grammy nominations, which “One of Us” earned.
The other reason is more important to me and, in some ways, actually shocking: “One of Us” is a song about God.
Eric Bazilian, who wrote the song, called it “the quickest song I ever wrote.” I have an opinion on why that is: Divine inspiration often comes in a flash.
Here’s part of the chorus:
“What if God was one of us … just a stranger on the bus … trying to make His way home.”
In those lines exists a challenge that I don’t believe any of us should avoid – a challenge to see Jesus in the faces of everyone we encounter, everywhere.
Jesus became the Word Incarnate for the forgiveness of our sins. For 33 years, God was, indeed, one of us; and he remains in all of us because we are created in God’s image and likeness.
The song’s verses also challenge us.
First verse: “If God had a name, what would it be … and would you call it to his face, if you were faced with him in all his glory … what would you ask if you had just one question?”
My analysis – I believe Jesus is God’s human name. And although I have thought about it for 25 years, I still have no idea what my “just one question” would be.
Second verse: “If God had a face, what would it look like … and would you want to see, if seeing meant that you would have to believe … in things like Heaven and in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets.”
My analysis – I have written in this space before about the Holy Veil of Manoppello. I believe it is the Veronica – the True Icon. For me, however, seeing it didn’t mean I had to believe – because I already did believe in Heaven, Jesus, the saints and all the prophets.
There is a bridge section between the song’s verses and chorus. In it, Osborne sings, “Yeah, Yeah, God is great … and yeah, yeah, God is good ...”
I couldn’t agree more.