October 2017  
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What the World Needs Now

What the World Needs Now

In 1965, amidst the Vietnam War and civil rights conflict, Hal David wrote a song by this title with music composed by Burt Bacharach. Dionne Warwick first popularized the song by beautifully singing “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing there is too little of”. During that time, there were many songs about love and its potential for solving the world’s problems; however, those singing about love and those listening didn’t understand the true meaning of love, neither did they know its source. Knowing the solution, without knowing the definition or the source of love, people mistakenly hailed the sexual revolution as the answer to what the world needs now.

1 John 4:7-17 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

Here we have the answer. God is love and the source of love. He defines it. Love is the very foundation of our relationship with God and with one another. We can achieve great wealth and power, but without God, who is love, life has no satisfying purpose.

Imagine waking up in a world without love, a world where people don’t care—and they don’t care that they don’t care. Small offenses would start fights and wars, because no one loved enough to forgive. People would become selfish and ambitious, stepping on others to better themselves. You see, a world without love is a world where the life of the unwanted would be cheap, where children and the aged are expendable, and where people sit silent while evil takes place. A world without love is without hope and filled with all the ugly substitutions that people find to take love’s place.

Living without love means that our hearts will be empty and indifferent. We won’t care about anything but ourselves. A life without love means that we’ll will be selfish, wanting only to fulfill our own lusts and desires. Living without love means we’ll forget how to be thankful for what we have or how others sacrificed to bless us. Living without love means that we won’t have a relationship with God. Living without love means living with bitterness. Without love, we grow angry at every offense and we plot to get even. Without love, hate flourishes and fills everything with darkness, and fear, and violence. A world without love is a miserable place.

Oh, you say, we already live in that world; we don’t have to imagine it! I agree with you! Then imagine a world where love is the rule. What would it look like?

The greatest description of love is given in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

The love that this is talking about isn’t the same thing as physical affection, though many call that love. No, “love,” is the surrender of the self for the best interests of others. Love takes place when people put other’s needs above their own. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Love is more than mere feelings, although love involves feeling. Love is an intentional act of the will; love determines to put self aside and bless the object of its love. Love sacrifices. Love pays whatever cost, gives whatever gift, and runs whatever risk to do what is best for another. It gladly gives without complaint. Love will act even when difficult things are required. Love will bear the harsh and the demanding load. Love is like a candle. It makes no noise, but it softly gives itself away to be a blessing to others.

Sometimes love is serving others. Sometimes love is allowing the one you love to suffer the consequences of their actions so they will repent. At other times, love means receiving the kindness of someone else to bless us. Love knows how to give, but love also knows how to receive the love others graciously give. Peter didn’t want the Lord to wash his feet, but his objection to allowing the kindness of Jesus meant that he was refusing intimacy with the Lord. You see, love requires us to allow others to enter into our lives and to be kind to us, too.

God is love. So let’s see how God loves. First, God’s love is sacrificial. John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Now here, God sets the pattern of true love, the basis for all love relationships—when you love somebody dearly, you’re willing to pay the price dearly for that person. God paid dearly with the life of His Son, the highest price He could pay. And Jesus, being one with God, accepted our punishment, paid the price for our sins, and then offered us the new life that He redeemed for us. When we share the Gospel with others, our love must be like Jesus, so He will be lifted up and they will know Jesus loves them. We must be willing to give up our own comfort and security so that others might receive God’s love.

Second, God’s love is forgiving. Psalm 103:8-12 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  

We can understand someone who forgives friends who apologize. But God’s love searches for His enemies, gives them faith in His Son, grace to repent of their sin, and joyfully forgives them. That is the kind of love that sent Jesus to earth to save us.

Third, God’s love is eternal and beyond measure. Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Suffering is the consequence of evil and the devil’s work. Consequently, believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, even death. Although these problems tempt us to feel abandoned by Christ, these things cannot separate us from Christ and His love. During these trials, God gives us His grace and strength to endure. We draw close to Him and He comforts us with His presence. God profoundly and eternally loves His people. He will not abandon us.

Ephesians 3:17-19 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love which surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Truthfully, we cannot love unless “love” is born in us by God, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is what the world needs now. Apart from Him, we only have selfish love, which is not true love. We may have the deepest of feelings, but love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that motivates us to act.

Loving God or loving somebody means that their needs and their desires are more important than our own. Many people want to be loved, but they don’t understand the higher calling of loving others. Love isn’t merely affection that we receive from other people; it’s our determination to sacrifice ourselves for the best interests of others. We love because we choose to love. We love because God first loved us and empowered us to love others.

The Lord Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

We show that we’re the Lord’s disciples when we love like He loves. Love means setting ourselves and our wills aside so that we can bless God and other people. When we truly love, self-sacrifice is a joy.

Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The devil leads people to be arrogant, to be offended easily, to take revenge, to slander, and to grow bitter inside. The Lord Jesus leads us to be kind, even when no one else is kind; to be tenderhearted, even when others are apathetic; and to forgive, even when the world hates us.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, that ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

The Heavenly Father sacrificed Jesus, His only Son, for our sin because He loves us. The Lord God forgives us, not because we deserve it, but because He is love, and that is what love does. He calls us to be the temple of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love. Therefore, He calls us to forgive—even when people don’t deserve it, because we are His children and He abides in us. He calls us to love our enemies rather than hate them, to bless those who persecute us, and to love those who don’t love us. Why? Because that’s the way God is. We either act like God or we act like the devil. We will act like the one to whom we belong.

Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Have you put on love or are you bitter and easily offended? Can people see the love of God in your heart and in your behavior? Do you care enough to take up a brother’s burden as your own? Do you care enough to sacrifice yourself for another’s benefit? God calls us to be His children and He expects us to grow in love and act like Jesus.

Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the head, that is, Christ.

So let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 13 and substitute love with our name and see how it reads. Verses 4-7: “I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast, I am not proud. I am not rude, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. I do not delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.” Does that accurately describe you?  It describes Jesus.

Hmmm, maybe we could stand a little more maturing—less of self, more of Jesus. Don’t take this lightly. Don’t just give mental assent to it. Ask God to fill you with His love daily and then act it out. It is our only purpose.

After that wonderful chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, comes the command in 1 Corinthians 14:1, which simply begins, “Pursue love…” Now to “pursue” means to go after something until you seize it. It isn’t speaking here about finding someone to love you; it’s urging us to pursue God, who is love. Pursuing means regularly giving of ourselves in time and effort to seek God. Love is not just going to happen; we are going to have to want it to happen. To pursue love, we have to come to the place that we intentionally say, “I want to be filled with God, the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love.”

God’s love and mercy motivates us to repent of our sins, and to live moral lives. Love won’t let us keep on sinning against God or sinning against other people. God loves you, and He wants to abide in you. And so, if you draw close to God and yield to the Holy Spirit, you will begin to love God the way that He loves you. He will change your life and you will begin to love others with His love, giving the world what it needs now.

Is that what you need now? Jesus died upon the cross to make atonement for your sins because He loves you. Don’t reject His marvelous gift of love and salvation. Believe in Jesus, turn away from everything sinful, confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized into Christ. Then you will enter into a relationship with God that lasts eternally. As God’s child, He will abide in you, love will fill your soul, and He will give you an inheritance in Heaven.