When we think of the great hymns of the faith, our minds likely go to such songs as “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, “How Great Thou Art”, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, and “Amazing Grace”. As pillars of truth, bearing amazing depths of theology, they stand high on the hill of hymnody.
However, no less noble are the Sunday School songs upon which we were raised. Deeply imbedded in these songs are profound levels of theology that bear witness to Scripture. As they are faithful to accurately communicate that, they are backed by the full authority of God’s breathed Word. Yet, still, in their simplicity they are not passive, rather they call to us to exhibit the truth of God.
You remember them. I know you do!
“The B-I-B-L-E, Yes that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, The B-I-B-L-E.”
“Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.”
“Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world, Red and yellow, black and white, They are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine!”
These simple songs are so great because they communicate the simplicity of the Gospel…God’s Word, communicates God’s truth. God’s love, for me and others, communicates His desire for relationship with us. And the light He gives us is entrustment to use our lives as witness; a proper understanding of the Gospel results in exuberant witness. Reflecting the glory of God is the goal and privilege of the Church. Written originally for younger hearts and minds, these “simple” tunes accurately promote the love of God through the Gospel.
At one level the Gospel is incomprehensible. It often baffles the best of theologians who are unable to simply communicate the good news. Oddly, somehow, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), has become “a defined divine strategy to implement and assign analytically synthesized relational and congregational components conducive to eternal systematic holiness paradigms”. Hmmm. What, why, and how God did what, and how, truly is mind-boggling. And yet, He did do it – God provided and secured redemption for all who would trust in his Christ.
At another level, the Gospel is simple enough for a young child to grasp and articulate. The B-I-B-L-E. Jesus Loves me. Jesus loves everybody. I am a light.
I am all about study, discipline, theorizing, complexity, and obedience, but let’s not lose sight of the reality that God does love each one of us, and desires to walk us home on our journey. God wants our hearts. And along the way, to tell a friend, or better yet, even an enemy, about Christ.
“Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning. Give me oil in my lamp, I pray. Give me oil in my lamp, keep it burning, burning, burning. Keep it burning til the break of day.”
Under a bushel? No! Let it shine. ‘Til the break of day!
Keep it simple. Keep it real!
[The Shepherd’s Echo is a previously published TheShepherdsPen]