What I’ve Done
Main Point of Discussion: How do we start over and begin with a clean slate?
The Music Video: “Let mercy come and wash away what I’ve done.”
Linkin Park has been at the top of the charts since the turn of the century. Their blend of rock and rhythmic lyrics- almost like rap- has captured audiences in both genres and always secured spots on the top 100. They have been the talk of music and radio news, they were the featured musician on SNL last weekend, and their new anticipated album is releasing today… Linkin Park is hot.
Right now the video for What I’ve Done is the 5th most downloaded music video on iTunes. The song is in the number 11 spot on iTunes and its number 28 on the Billboard Top 100. But the launch of their new album “Minutes to Midnight” today will probably create more of a stir as millions of teenagers rush out to buy it this week.
At THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY we like to use pop culture references to start Biblical conversation (just like the Apostle Paul used culture to start conversations about Jesus in Acts 17). This music video might be a good discussion starter in some circles. Use your discernment. Although this song, like most Linkin Park songs, is clean, their new album actually has the explicit lyrics warning
But don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. You can use the video as a discussion starter without endorsing the album.
If you want, you can print out the lyrics (below) and give each student a copy to refer to.
MTV.com has the video on their site for free right now and iTunes offers the video as a download for $1.99. Ask the tech guy at your church how to play the video on a laptop through a projector.
IMPORANT NOTE TO LEADERS: This discussion is NOT meant to turn into a discussion about our environment (I’ll let Al Gore do that). We are simply going to use the issues and questions that Linkin Park raises to talk about mercy and forgiveness.
Introducing the Music Video:
Many of you might have already seen the relatively new music video from Linkin Park, “What I’ve Done.” I’m going to show you this video really quick and then we want to hear from you.
- Song Lyrics: “What I've Done”
In this farewell
There’s no blood
There’s no Alibi
‘Cause I’ve Drawn Regret
For the Truth
Of a Thousand Lies
So let Mercy Come
And Wash Away
What I’ve Done
I’ve Faced myself
To Cross out what I’ve Become
And let Go of What I’ve done
Put to rest
What you Thought of Me
Well I Cleaned this Slate
With the Hands of Uncertainty
For What I’ve Done
I’ll start again
And whatever pain may come
Today this ends
I’m Forgiving What I’ve Done!!!
What I’ve Done
Forgiving What I’ve Done
In this video we saw a lot going on. We saw a lot of different bad situations, wars and crisis that humans have caused.
Large Group Questions:
- What are some of the bad things that humans have done to each other and to our planet that we saw in this video? (leader—some of the answers you might be looking for are: race riots, war, pollution, gas consumption, ivory, engorging ourselves while others are starving, looting, terrorism, oppressive governments or hate groups like the KKK, the Nazi’s or Saddam, bombing villages, nuclear bombs, global warming, drug abuse, oil spills… )
- As we look at some of these heinous crimes by people like the Nazis or the KKK… it’s probably easy to think, “I would never do something like that.” And most of us probably don’t feel that responsible for nuclear war, bombing villages or killing elephants for their tusks. But we see problems like global warming, fuel consumption, pollution, littering… maybe a few of us might actually realize that we are a part of that. Bottom line: who is guilty for all of this? (leader- the answer you are looking for is: We are!)
- According to Linkin Park, who is responsible for all these sins against humanity? Hint: the answer is in the title of the song (leader—the answer you are looking for: “I” …what I’ve done. We’re the only ones to blame.)
In the lyrics to the song, Linkin Park not only seem to be accepting responsibility for some of these crimes against each other and our planet… but they also seem to be seeking forgiveness and mercy for “What I’ve done.”
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups to discuss this, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, let’s go around the circle and tell everyone your name and your favorite CD at the moment.
- ASK A FEW: How many of you ran out of time, ink or space before you ran out of sins?
- ASK A FEW: In the Linkin Park song they talk about “regret” for what they’ve done. Is there anything on your paper you regret?
But the song doesn’t stop at regret. They also say “So let Mercy Come and Wash Away What I’ve Done…” They are seeking forgiveness. Then they say “I’ve Faced myself to Cross out what I’ve Become.” Really the gist of the song is this: When they look at their list of sins, really the sins that we all are committing- they don’t like what they’ve done and what they’ve become. So they are seeking forgiveness… something to “cross out” what they’ve become.
- ASK A FEW: Do you think people would like to have a fresh start… to have some of the things on their list of sins crossed out?
- ASK A FEW: What about you…would you like some of the things on your list “crossed out”…to have a clean slate?
Okay, now I’m going to hand each of you a piece of paper.
(Pass out one piece of paper to every student)
Linkin Park brought up the issue of our “sins” … the things we have done wrong. The fact is, all of us have done wrong things in our lives. Little lies, cheating, out of control anger, bad thoughts, things that we say, things that we allow ourselves to hear or watch, etc. Right now, we’re going to take a moment and write something that NO ONE ELSE will see. We are all going to write out our sins. Take a few minutes and write down every sin that you can remember that you’ve ever committed from the time you were little till now.
(Give them a few minutes and have them write every sin they have committed in their life. The idea is to make them realize how long the list is…how impossible it is to complete a list in just 5 minutes. Note: some kids might have the opposite problem, coming up with more than just a couple sins. Don’t worry about this either, the point really is that we all have sinned and will at least have something on this list.)
Don’t worry… no one will see this piece of paper but you… so you can be honest. You have just 5 minutes to work on your list.
It’s not surprising that we all had lots of sins to write down. The Bible says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23 (NLT) Not many of us would argue about the fact that all of us have messed up.
Read the following passage from the Bible:
Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
You will never be flying east. The East is ENDLESSLY far from the West. God has removed our sins so far away from us that they can never be brought back to us.
Some of us might be wondering how these sins are removed.
Read the following passage:
Romans 5:8-9 (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
God has given us an incredible gift: a fresh start, forgiveness, mercy from our list of sins, a clean slate. Some of us have ignored this gift. Some of us have never accepted this free gift.
Read the following passage:
Romans 10:10-11 (NLT)
For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Let’s say that you are LOST in the woods and someone tells you the direction to go to find your way home. They sense that you might not believe them, so they ask you, “Do you believe me?” You say, “Oh yes, I believe you.” But then you go another direction and try to find your own way home, becoming more lost.
(NOTE TO LEADER: Sometimes a kid will recognize that there is something in their life that they NEED to let go of… but in all honesty, they admit that they would like to keep doing it. In other words, they DON’T want to give that up. If this happens, I always compliment them for their honesty and then try to keep the door open for later conversations. I might say something like this: Thanks for your honesty. God doesn’t want us to just say, “I believe”… and fake it. A relationship with God takes faith in him, a faith that means letting go. So I appreciate you trusting me with that. Maybe we can talk more about that later.)
Maybe some of us need to take a step of faith tonight and believe…. and by that I mean truly believe, not just say, “I believe” and resume your way down the wrong path.
CLOSE GROUP IN PRAYER: Give students a chance to pray and ask God to forgive them of their sins.
ALL TOGETHER: Take that piece of paper and have the students rip it up as many times as they can.
Tonight we’ve been talking about the concept of needing mercy to wash away “What I’ve Done.” It’s no secret that we all have stuff in our lives that doesn’t belong there. And many of us indicated tonight that a fresh start would be nice.
Now is the time. You can have a fresh start right now. Even though we are sinners, Christ died for us and is willing to “make us right.” This free gift can be ours if we simply trust in Him. This doesn’t mean saying, “Sure… I believe in God” and then reverting back to the way we were. This is a belief that says “Today this ends. Jesus, forgive me for what I’ve done!”
Close in Prayer
By Jonathan McKee and Todd Pearage
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on TheSource4YM.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.