(Thanks to my men’s LifeGroup for the ideas that follow.)
“In The Garden” is one of the best-loved American hymns of the 20th Century.
Back in my Mt. Carmel days, I well remember saying, “Turn to #314 in your hymnal and let’s stand and sing ‘In The Garden.'”
Yet the hymn’s refrain makes some deceptively shocking claims:
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
Shocking claim #1: it’s me and Jesus in our own privileged world and private relationship.
Shocking claim #2: no one else has ever known such intimacy with Jesus.
Ponder that. No one else in all time or in all creation has been as close to Jesus as I am right now.
Of course the irony in that is this: if you’re really that close to Jesus, you don’t go around boasting about it.
So In The Garden’s sweetness belies the false picture of the Christian faith at its core.
I don’t imagine we’ll be singing it at Good Shepherd any time soon. But there’s always Elvis’ version: