I recently watched the online video of a nearby non-denominational church’s Sunday morning worship service. The service started with the worship band singing a cover of Gavin DeGraw’s song “I Don’t Want to Be.” The narrator in the song celebrates that he does not want to be anyone else besides “me.” For instance, one line in the song goes, “All I have to do is think of me and I have a peace of mind.” You can read the rest of the lyrics here.
The song has a fun beat to it and drives forward with a guitar that desires listeners to cheer along with this “me.” I wonder if this song demonstrates the modern gospel, the modern attempt at good news to brings rescue from the hurts and harms that we have done to others and what has been done to us?
I hope not, because I find no rescue from death or the devil at work in this world when I look into me. I do not find good news for my relationship with other people by looking in me. I do not find peace by looking into my mirror in the morning. It is not that I am filled with self-loathing or hate myself. I am honest. I am not perfect. I am not looking to become a better me to find my place in the world. It would be unfair to people I love if I demanded that they just accept me for who I am. I am a sinner. In my thoughts, words and actions I miss the mark. In my own nature, in my own me, I will not find rescue for my sin, my death, or from the devious attacks of the devil. I cannot just become a better me.
God in his mercy has seen the trajectory of “me” is not headed towards peace. So Jesus became flesh and lived and died and rose again for me. I have been washed in the love of Jesus so that I have been joined to Jesus dying on the cross. I trust that if I have been joined to the death of Jesus then I certainly have been joined to the resurrection of Jesus. This Jesus is my good news.
Jesus does not condemn me. Neither does Jesus desire that I remain a sinner. Jesus loves me to save me from me. The message in the song “Jesus love me” is not about how Jesus loves me as a sinner. Jesus loves me entirely from his nature to love and not because of anything I am. The divine love of Jesus that rescues me from myself is the love that Jesus has for me entirely apart from what I have done or who I am. I worry that the modern gospel has become a celebration of “me” instead of a celebration that Jesus loves us while we were yet still sinners. I follow Jesus, because if I followed myself I would just go in circles and get no closer to becoming the man that God has created me to be. I follow Jesus because he is the way to eternal life.