As I read the news about more than 41,000 deaths in the Turkey and Syria earthquake, there are now more than 40 million people whose lives are in immediate danger as they are homeless and hungry in the cold. It also appears that the Russian war in Ukraine will ramp up with the spring offensive.
In the U.S., as of February 15, we had 71 mass shootings in just the first six weeks of 2023. That is 1.5 mass shooting a day. As idiotic as it is, there are still people who believe that people should have a right to have guns. How stupid is that? Especially as some of them claim to believe in God.
We also have continuing assaults on women’s reproductive rights. Assault on the LGBTQIA+ community’s right to self-determination. Assault on affirmative action. Assault on the truth about racism. Assault on basic safety nets such as SNAP, Medicare, Social Security, and Welfare. The U.S. is heading to a very uncivil civil war, and it is led by UN-Christian conservatives in the name of Jesus.
As a young child, I remember hearing the song, but I thought it was a bit cheesy, a bit waltzy, and a bit too country. However, the chorus was catchy, and many school choirs included them in their repertoire. The song hit the charts in 1965, and the Burt Bacharach song reflected the hope of a generation and their opposition to the U.S. invasion of Vietnam. Last week, as NPR talked about the passing of Burt Bacharach, I found myself humming the chorus of the song,
What the world needs now, is love, sweet love, 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, oh but just for every, every, everyone.
These words were penned 60 years ago, but the truth of the song is more relevant than ever. As the UN-Christian conservatives are leading the nation into an uncivil civil war, the message of Jesus is lost. As the church fights each other, the younger generation is walking away from religious institutions.
We have a younger generation that is working to build an inclusive society, but the church is fighting to become a more exclusive social club. The younger generation is working to build a more humane world, but the church is condemning those whom they disagree with. The younger generation is building a world where everyone will be accepted as who they are, but the church is claiming that only certain people are acceptable to God. In a world where people are crying out for love, the institutional church is spending its time talking about who they can hate.
I think the church needs to read the Bible. In his first letter, John says, “…love is from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
The song says the world needs love. In other words, the lyricist Hal David was echoing the cry of the world for God. The world is asking the Church for love or God. Let us share the love of God we have experienced.