Our Favorite Songs: Jesus Loves Me

All nations worship - stained glass (via http://www.palmerlogchurch.org/images/windows/all_nations.jpg)To kick off the series of guest posts about our favorite worship songs, Joanie has graciously agreed to share her thoughts. I met Joanie during my first year in seminary. Her insight is profound. Her humor is contagious. I am glad to call her a friend – even if her cat makes my eyes itchy.

She is a Pastoral Care intern at Grandview Christian Church. Aside from some late fees at the library, she’s a fine upstanding citizen – even though the librarian has her suspicions. 😉

Thanks, Joanie, for this great contribution! 

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“Jesus Loves Me” is one of the best-known hymns of the church. It is among the first I learned as a child. My mother used to sing it to me every night before I went to sleep. The theological significance of the words didn’t strike me at the time; I just accepted them.

As I got a little older, the hymn began to lose its luster for me. It seemed so babyish to me. Only little kids sang that song- and I sure didn’t want to be thought of as one of the “little ones” who belonged to him. The song was embarrassing.

I can’t remember the rest of the conversation, but one day I was asking my dad some sort of Big God Question, and his answer was this story: Once someone asked the eminent theologian Karl Barth what was the deepest theological truth he ever encountered, and he replied (at this point I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the secret of life to be revealed to me), ‘Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’ I have to tell you this was a letdown. I inwardly rolled me eyes but nodded my head like I knew what my dad was talking about.

I grew up and went to college. I went through a period when I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a Christian. I was struggling. I felt that God was leaving me alone with all my problems. But I remembered: Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. At least some part of me believed it. And over time I came to see and experience that it was true.

As I grew in my faith, I realized that I wanted to serve God in a more complete way, so I packed up and went to seminary. Everything in seminary is confusing. If they are doing their job, the professors will make you examine and question everything you ever believed. Learning about the ugly periods in Church History is confusing. Learning that Bible translation is an intuitive art instead of an exact science is confusing. Reading 15 different interpretations of the same scripture is confusing. Sometimes the only thing I had to hold onto was “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

I ended up finding pastoral care as my calling. It’s very fulfilling, but it also brings a lot of the painful “why” questions- and not a lot of answers. Why do some people get infections that cripple them for life? Why do some brilliant and good people end up not even being able to remember themselves? Why are people – all people, some of the time – so unkind to each other? I couldn’t bear it if I didn’t keep this one though in mind:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

So I have to agree with Karl Barth. The words of this hymn, which I learned almost as soon as I could speak, have become the very cornerstone of my life. They sum up my 35 years of life experience and 22 years of education. If you want to know my most basic assumption that shapes my view of God, myself, and the world, I’ll tell you:

Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

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About mattdantodd

My name is Matt Todd. My wife and I have three kids, a dog, and a guinea pig. We adopted our youngest daughter is from Ethiopia. We're definitely not opposed to adopting again. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces and the Indiana Hoosiers. What else do you need to know? You're welcome to... Follow me on twitter at @mattdantodd Friend me on facebook
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