“What the World Needs Now Is Love,” a popular song by writer Hal David and composer Burt Bacharach, is well known for its wistful lyric:
What the world needs now, is love sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of...
Sadly, expressions of love between human beings are often misused, or are overused to the point of being little more than cliché. From a Christian standpoint, then, what is real love?
We can learn a lot about real love from the Bible. In the New King James Version, the word “love” is used 362 times, in 323 verses. The different degrees of love, the different kinds of love, the different uses of love and the different inferences of love are all there in the Bible.
Too often, we use the word “love” in romantic or intimate situations when in fact we really mean something selfish. We say “I love you” with only our own interests and needs at heart. Real love for others, of course, goes way beyond just thinking of our own welfare and getting what we want.
So, was the songwriter right? And, if so, what kind of love does the world need now, more than any other kind? This may sound like a frivolous question at first, but there is a serious—and world-affecting—answer. What the world needs now, more than ever, is outgoing love for others.
Outgoing love shows compassion and concern for others more than self. Outgoing love is what God the Father emphasized, through the Logos—His Son, Jesus Christ—throughout the pages of the Bible. Christ Himself gives us this instruction: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ ‘This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37–39). This is a very high standard for love. How important is it? Christ summarized it as follows: “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:40).
Scripture teaches us to love our enemies, and reminds us of how we should treat them: “But, I say to you, love your enemies. Bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). In our contentious modern world, this is certainly a difficult standard to uphold. Yet, as Christians, we are called to be like Jesus Christ, and to be recognizable as Christians by our actions—always showing outgoing love for others. The Apostle Paul gives us further instruction in love: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Romans 12:9–10).
Real, outgoing love looks out for other people’s best interests. “Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). In summary, we must love others as Christ loved us, in that even though we were still sinners, He gave his life for us (Romans 5:8).
What will the world be like when all are taught this way of outgoing love for one another, anchored on a deep love for God? To find out, read our inspiring booklet, The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like? Or watch our Tomorrow’s World telecast, “Your Ultimate Destiny.” This is the kind of love the world needs now!