More Than 55 Years Later, This Song's Lyrics Ring Truer Than Ever


It was in early 1965 that Jackie DeShannon recorded the hit song, "What the World Needs Now Is Love."

Burt Bacharach and Hal David had co-written this musical masterpiece. The song was planted in fertile soil during a season of controversy over the Vietnam War and the escalating Civil Rights push. A year later, Dionne Warwick released her own version.

Love. For everyone. Is it really what the world needs? Certainly, there has to be more.

But ages before a tune rolled in the mind of Burt Bacharach, God was writing a similar message. And the ink He used was the blood of His precious Son. God loved the world. Us. You and me.

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And into the mess that we made, He sent His Son as a demonstration of that love. So, why do I think that there has to be more to the formula?

It was the apostle Paul who wrote, "So now abide faith, hope, and love, these three. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13).

The greatest is love.

And by "greatest" the Holy Spirit of God didn't mean sweetest, nicest, warmest and most nostalgic and pleasant.

He meant the greatest, strongest, most powerful. Our all-powerful God describes Himself as love—not as an addendum to His resume, but as His essence.

It was in February 1964, just before his fight with Sonny Liston, that Muhammad Ali announced to the world that "I am the greatest. To prove that I am great, I will end this fight in eight. And if he keeps giving me jive, I'll end it in five."

And in fact, it took seven rounds. But I doubt that anyone misunderstood Ali's use of the term "greatest."

God has declared, "Love is the greatest."

It is what will stem the tide of hatred. It is the only effective force against the cosmic powers of evil.

For God so loved the world ...

Yes, what the world needs now is the love of Jesus, demonstrated with courageous self-sacrifice by the church of Christ.

  • Love unconstrained by the ballot box.
  • Love uncontained by the halls of power.
  • Love unleashed by the Spirit of God within us.

For too long, the followers of Jesus have tried to fight fire with fire, and it's now time to fight fire with love.

  • Love that defends the defenseless.
  • Love that protects the vulnerable.
  • Love that welcomes the stranger.
  • Love that feeds the hungry.
  • Love that listens to the voiceless.
  • Love that embraces the outcast.
  • Love that does what only love can do.

Isn't it time? What are we waiting for? Jesus came to earth with a single message. A single plank in His platform ...

Love God. Love others. This is the greatest commandment.

Love is a word forged with steel. Love is a ransom paid. Love is the singular force that kept the Creator of the universe affixed to a cross.


Let us love our neighbors, enemies, rivals, foreigners and families.

Sing it Dionne ... sing it.

What the world needs now ... and always.

Dan Wolgemuth is president/CEO of Youth For Christ. Youth For Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC's first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and always about the message of Jesus.

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Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.

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