"What the world needs now—is love, sweet love..." is how a popular song in the mid-sixties went. It was sung by Jackie DeShannon and is still one of my favorite songs from the sixties. This YouTube video link of the song captures the innocent hope of the 60's for a universal love.
Another favorite song by the Youngbloods called "Get Together" became somewhat of an anthem for the peace movement of the 60's—"Come on people now—smile on your brother—everybody get together—try to love one another right now."
The 60's were a tumultuous time of expectant hope and, at first, altruistic belief in the goodness of humanity. It was a decade with a divergent mix of protests and campus unrest, an unpopular war overseas, economic change, and a moral and spiritual vacuum.
A naive hope seemed to die with the close of the decade and the beginning of the "Me Generation" of the 70's. Today we're in a similar era with a divergent clash of expectations but without innocence or hope.
In fact, there's a whole lot of mud-slinging and name-calling, but it's not just political. It permeates our culture in so many ways. What the world needs now is love with humility. At the very least, some civility.
When you look into the heart of God—who is love (1 John 4:7-8, 16)—the nature of His love is humility. Out of His great love, He gave His Son for the whole world (John 3:16).
God is love and the nature of His love is humility
Looking at Jesus we see humility. The apostle Paul pointed this out when he exhorted the church in Philippi to be unified through humility towards one another (Philippians 2:1-4). Then he points them to Jesus as our example—
Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Although he was in the form of God and equal with God, he did not take advantage of this equality.
Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant, by becoming like other humans, by having a human appearance.
He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, death on a cross. (Phil 2:5-8 GW)
Jesus—the personification of God's love—said this about Himself—
Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves (Matthew 11:29 GW)
Looking at Jesus we see humility and love personified
We in the American church, including evangelicals, are too often caught up in being right—doctrinally and morally. The focus of teaching and how we are to live is more on upholding moral standards and protecting our rights and freedoms.
Having good moral standards is honorable, and the great privilege of living in America is that we enjoy certain rights and freedoms (see US Constitution for more details).
But with privilege and freedom comes responsibility and true morality is not based on human goodness, but the nature of God.
Genuine morality is not based on human goodness, but the nature of God
I fear we—the church—are moving faster and faster in the direction of becoming modern-day Pharisees—self-righteous and hypocritical and lacking in mercy, grace, and humility.
The Jewish leaders who longed for their messiah to come deliver Israel missed Him when He did come. They condemned Him and found a way of putting Him to death.
They were too caught up in themselves and maintaining their own sense of rightness to see that the Messiah they had waited centuries for was Jesus.
Are we—the church—moving in the direction of becoming modern-day Pharisees?
How can this be reversed? Can it be? If it can't, we are hopeless. Ah, but a solution exists.
Change comes one life at a time, one heart at a time. Then, and only then, lasting significant change will take place in our churches, our nation, and our world.
Jesus said, "Come learn of Me..." and called all believers—all true followers—to deny their selfish ambitions and desires, pride, and self-centeredness, die to themselves—take up their cross and then follow Him (Matt 16:24).
Change comes one life at a time, one heart at a time
The solution to world peace
He calls us into a simple, intentional, relational, and intimately personal life of discipleship. When disciples are disciple makers and people's lives are changed one at a time, the peace of God extends throughout the world exponentially.
This has always been the Lord's solution to world peace. It requires no degree or certificate or special training. It's a matter of sharing the life we have in Jesus with others.
Really, it's that simple. But, it's an investment of life and time in the lives of others. It requires self-discipline and commitment and humility.
Are you ready for a change? Submit yourself to Jesus—the humble personification of love and the Lord of Lords.
Are you ready for a change of direction in the world around you?
It starts with you and me.