Most mornings I wake up with a melody in my heart – even before I hit the shower! Odd, I know. It’s usually a happy song and, more often than not, something we sang in church recently. I’m not sure why it happens, but I think my heart is often trying to inform my mind of what I should focus on for the day. Whatever the case, by the time I hit the shower there is a good chance the rest of the family hears it too!
This morning it happened again, except this time I was singing a song that I have concluded is not just for me, it’s a song that we all need to hear. It starts off like this: “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love…” Do you remember it? I haven’t heard that song in years and wondered where it came from. I’m sure that like me, in your mind you are already finishing off the first stanza: “it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, no not just for some but for everyone.”
Thanks to the internet I quickly learned “What the World Needs Now, is Love, Sweet Love” was penned in 1965 by Hal David with music composed by Burt Bacharach. It was first offered to Diana Ross, who chose not to use it right way. (She later recorded it). Since then this simple tune has been performed and sung by more than 100 artists recorded in nearly a dozen films.
For some reason this morning I couldn’t get that first line out of my mind. Over and over I heard the words, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.” Then something unusual happened. Instead of thinking about the day and where I needed to show love to others, my mind began to focus on the very sad and tragic news of the last several days – shootings on our own streets and schools, in faraway places like Kenya and the Middle East, violence in our nation’s capital, and the abuse and abduction of children in our own country.
There is no doubt that in our homes, our neighborhoods, schools, at work and in our nation true love is in short supply. That’s not to say we don’t use the word “love.” In fact, we might even over use the word love in our conversations: I love a good movie, I love chips and salsa, a good meal, time with friends and family.
But real love is more than a way to describe something that looks good: “I love that.” True love is far stronger than an emotion; it’s a gift given to someone else with no strings attached. It’s a sacrificial gift. Jesus described the depth, the strength, and the commitment of love extended to others this way, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Love is about preferring others above ourselves, honoring the dignity of every person, helping those who are less fortunate than us, and encouraging people to never give up.
Yes our world needs more happy songs, more sweet conversations and kind gestures. But what we all really desperately need is the kind of love Jesus gave. It was pure, life-giving and eternal.