Let me put it this way: Matt Papa’s new album “This Changes Everything” is for people who like their coffee strong. For those of our readership who do not know Matt Papa, he is a SEBTS student and a worship leader at The Summit Church here in Raleigh-Durham. I know him fairly well and would describe him as a theologically-driven worship leader who crafts songs and albums that speak prophetically to our cultural context. In particular, he sings about Christ’s Lordship and its implications. In the remainder of the post, I ask Matt four questions about himself and about the album.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your family, and your ministry.
I’m Matt. I love Jesus. I’m 28 years old. I’m happily married to Lauren Papa and have 2 beautiful little girls, Paisley and Stella. I serve on staff part-time at the Summit Church and also travel and sing and preach around the country. I like the Georgia Bulldogs and Mexican food.
I became a new creation when I was 12 and began doing ministry when I was a teenager. Since about 15 or so, I’ve been writing songs, singing them, and preaching the gospel. I studied music in college and once graduating, made my first album entitled “You Are Good.” Since then God has been so gracious to give us a wealth of opportunities to serve Him and make Him known.
2. Why did you write “This Changes Everything”?
This album is mostly, like my other albums, a collection of songs that comes out of my own personal wrestling with the Lord. This album, however, is a bit unique in the sense that there’s a story behind it.
I was in India about 3 years ago on a mission trip. We were on the train heading to our missions site for the day, and I met a young man on a train named Ajay. He was about 20 years old. I’ll never forget the conversation that followed:
Me: Have you ever heard of a guy named Jesus?
Ajay: I think so?
Me: Do you know anything about Him?
Ajay: No. Will you tell me?
So I shared the story with Him. I started from the beginning. God created, we sinned, Jesus came, and died for sin; told him the whole thing. And I’ll never forget what happened next:
Me: Ajay, Jesus DIED for you on the cross so you could be forgiven!
Me: But Ajay, I’ve got some good news … after 3 days … He got back up.
Then, Ajay said two words I’ll never forget as long as I live:
Ajay: IT’S TRUE?
His eyes were full with wonder. He had never heard the gospel before. At that, I began to weep. I don’t know if God orchestrated this moment more for Ajay or for me because in that moment, I felt scales falling from my heart. In the moment, I thought about HOW MANY times I have heard the gospel growing up in church and responded with APATHY. I truly don’t know if I had EVER responded with such faith and reckless abandon as this kid on a train in India did that day.
It was as if, for Ajay, if Jesus really rose from the dead, then EVERYTHING was different. Ajay taught me something that day: that is it utterly foolish to become familiar with the gospel. It is jaw-dropping, or it is nothing. He’s either alive or He’s not. It’s either the reality that wrecks your life forever or it is nothing at all. C.S. Lewis said it best: Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it CANNOT BE is moderately important.
3. What is the primary theme of the album?
The Lordship of Christ. In my times with the Lord leading up to making this album, I would be reading and I might find a command in the Word that I had yet to submit to and the question that continued to confront me was NOT: What is the Greek / Hebrew of this verse? Or maybe how this applied to those people back then? No. The question that I had to wrestle with was: Is He God or not? Because if He’s God, I don’t have a choice whether I want to obey.
Jesus does not give us the option to make Him our homeboy. With the resurrection, Jesus drew a line in the sand of the universe. We will either love Him or hate Him. Follow Him or deny Him. Worship Him or Blaspheme Him. Kill Him or crown Him. There is no middle ground.
4. What, above all, do you wish for readers to know and/or do because of this CD?
This is absolutely it, a paragraph I wrote that is in the artwork of the album:
The year was 1514, and the earth was the center of it all. Until Nicolas Copernicus changed everything.
It’s called the “Copernican Revolution” for a reason. Everyone believed the sun, and everything else, revolved around the earth. Everyone was wrong. And as the Sun took it’s rightful place at the center of the great Milky Way, a greater fear and reverence swept over all mankind; as for the first time man doubted his centrality in the universe. For the first time, humanity came trembling to grips with the humbling and earth-shattering reality: we are small.
My prayer for you is that as these songs bring you into collision with the greatest, most central reality in the universe, namely the Gospel, that a Copernican revolution would be unleashed in your life. All of us come into this world bent on believing that we are at the center. But we’re not. There is, however, a Reality holding steady at the center of it all, beckoning us to open our eyes and see what we were made for. His name is Jesus. And He is the center. He will not be a part of your life, one of the many orbiting obligations around you. He will be your life; the star you revolve around or nothing at all. The tomb is empty and He is Lord. This changes everything.