A Tale of Two Songs

Here are two songs that every little evangelical tike worth his salt knows:
Jesus Loves Me
Jesus Loves the Little Children (all the children of the world)

But do each of these songs communicate the same thing? Or is there a distinct difference between the “me-centered approach” to Christianity (“MCA”) and the “world-centered approach” to Christianity (“WCA”)?

Here are some possible differences:

MCA: Jesus is my “personal savior”
WCA: Jesus is savior of the world (which still includes me, of course, since I’m part of the world)

MCA: Jesus saves me by keeping me out of hell after I die
WCA: Jesus saves the world – in part, by sending the church into it (me being part of the church)

MCA: Because non-Christians are evil, I and my children should avoid them (and if we dare try to “convert” them – keep as much distance as possible in the process by assuming an authoritarian tone)
WCA: Because non-Christians suffer the consequences of evil, I and my family should serve them, befriend them, and love them

MCA: I will one day escape the “evil” people in this world and be happy in heaven
WCA: God will one day re-make this “evil” world (and a lot of its people) into something good. Then, it will be a great place to live, and all who embrace the Kingdom get to stay (or be part of something like it, but “new”)

MCA: God will rapture me from the world before the apocalyptic (e.g., judgment and destruction) begins to happen
WCA: God calls me to testify to the Lordship of Jesus in the world even as I/the world experience the apocalyptic in the here and now

MCA: I should protect myself and my family by lobbying government to pass laws that shield me from the influences of evil people
WCA: I should be the presence of Jesus in the midst of a culture full of people who suffer as a result of evil

MCA: I come to God in worship to feel good about what he has done for me
WCA: I come to God in worship to dedicate all of life to fulfilling the mission that started in Jesus

MCA: God blesses me
WCA: God blesses the world through me (and, yeah, those “blessings” can include me, too)

MCA: Church is a great place to bunker away from the world with people who are “safe” influences for me and my family
WCA: Church is something that I am (better yet, that “we are”), not a place I go – and that something that I am (“we are”) is a minister to the broken and lost

What do you think? Can these two approaches coexist? Do you, like me, fear you may have long ago sold out to the “Jesus Loves Me” approach to the exclusion of the “all the children of the world” approach?

Far be it from me to mischeviously, intentionally, and unfairly frame a debate. However, if someone wants to start the discussion by accusing me of just that, feel free…

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