What the world needs now
This post originally ran on December 31, 2012.
Another year in the books and, boy, things just keeps getting better and better, huh? Folks are learning how to get along with each other despite their differences, spouses are for the most part toughing it out and staying together and learning to love each other for the sake of their children, the world is a safer place because nations are choosing to live and let live, crime and corruption are decreasing as people see the value in honesty and hard work, families are more stable and self-sufficient as government entities recognize and reject policies that hamper their income potential and freedom, children are increasingly safer in the home, in the womb, and in the classroom. The human race is evolving, continually improving in all that is good.
As we look back at a year that is now history, the year that is still future is frankly looking a bit grim. The Middle East continues to be a hotbed of strife and conquest, Muslim fundamentalists are not rethinking their goal of world domination and calling off their terrorists, governments are succumbing to the childish whining of their spoiled citizens and overspending themselves into weakness and instability, the family unit of man, woman and child, the bedrock of society, is continuing to erode because of laissez-faire sex, destigmatized divorce, and twisted views of sexuality, violence is not only a fact of daily life in our urban areas but our small towns and elementary schools as well, fueled in part by its increasing exploitation in television and film entertainment, and religious freedom is oh so gradually so as not to cause alarm being encroached on if it is seen as disadvantageous to the whims of the secular majority.
Is there any way to change course and truly make the world a better place? “Better” as in more peaceful, more characterized by love and joy, more stable and safe, and populated by folks who are honest and law-abiding, content and considerate. Technological advancements have made the world “better” in terms of capabilities in communication, manufacturing, health care and such, but the qualities that would make the world better as I described it are those that proceed from the heart, and technology can’t advance the condition of the human heart. The physical organ, yes, but not man’s soul, the core of his being.
The only remedy for a heart that is sick with hatred, envy, loneliness, despair, covetousness, apathy, or pride is quite drastic, actually. A complete transplant is needed. We are all born with defective hearts because of sin, but the Great Physician stands ready to remove our “heart of stone” and give us a new “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26). All we need do is turn to him in faith and submission. In an instant the operation is begun and completed, and the recovery is guaranteed and permanent.
“What the world needs now is love, sweet love,” as Hal David penned it to Burt Bacharach’s tune, and they were right. But the kind of love that transforms angry, would-be murderers into grateful, submissive peace-lovers is the kind that only emanates from a heart of flesh, the one that is fashioned in a new birth. Stone hearts are hard towards their Maker, and inevitably towards other hearts. The only way to change the world and make it a truly better place is to change hearts.
David and Bacharach’s 1965 hit song may be dismissed as simple superficial sentimentality. But they were arguably profound in crafting their sentiments as a prayer: “Lord, we don’t need another mountain…” The best remedy for the world’s ills will be found with the One who created it.