Monday, April 5, 2010

Jesus Loves Me

If I speak in human or angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body [to hardship] that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. --1 Corinthians 13:1-3

My kids have a worship CD that we play in the car. Almost everyone of the 16 sons is about God's love, God's goodness, or God's nearness to us. It’s cool to see our six- and four-year-old boys sing about God’s love for them. This made me think about how we sang "Jesus Loves Me” when I was their age. But I realized something else: from what I remember about church, we tended to only sing this song it as a part of kids' meetings or events. We didn't sing about such emotional things with the adults. The songs there were about much more serious topics.

Then I realized that I operated out of an unstated assumption that talking about God's love, acceptance and grace is something for the children's ministry or for new Christians. But it seemed like we assumed that Christian maturity meant outgrowing the need for such basic things as God’s love.

I grew up in the church, lived according to the moral code of the church and I thought I was a Christian because I walked the aisle and got baptized. But when I was 20 I realized that I had never humbled myself before God and started a relationship with him. During the next year I read all kinds of books on grace, how I don't have to perform for his love and how he freely offers healing even though I don't deserve it. Then I moved on to learn other things about God.

Through the years, I found myself being led back to reconsider how I view God's love for me. The first few times I got frustrated with myself because I assumed that I should have moved beyond such basics. But now I see that we can never out grow them. If God is love then everything about our walk with him and our life on general should flow out from a knowledge and experience of that love. God’s love is like a hub and everything else about God and our life in him should flow out of the reality of this love. For these spokes to work properly, we must continue to tend to the hub, the center of it all. If we don't, all we have is a pile of spokes and even if these spokes are perfectly designed, they cannot accomplish their intended purposes. In other words, we can do our Christian life perfectly, live morally and have success in the world, but unless the various aspects of our life are connected the God of love, all is worthless.

One of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century was Karl Barth (nearly as good as our own Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy). He wrote about 20,000 pages of theology during his life. He was asked toward the end of his nearly 60 years of reflecting and writing on God about his most significant theological insight. He summarized it by simply saying, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Whenever we fail to see, experience and know the love of God, we can be confident that we are close to missing the point of it all.

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