Is it just me or do you feel like I do that our society is in chaos? Five minutes of the headlines in the news is enough of a sample to know that something is off right now. It seems like a spirit of darkness has invaded our culture, our government, our communities, and our families. And it seems as if we are so divided as a people of what is right and wrong that we cannot have a reasoned discussion on where we can go from here to experience a better way of life.i
What The World Needs Now
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of a song written in the early 1960’s by the famous duo of Hal David and Burt Bacharach entitled “What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love.” I remember hearing that song growing up, yes I am old! That song was written during another tumultuous time in our history. The 60s launched a huge wave of protests and division over the Vietnam War. So in the midst of a tumultuous time, a song of a yearning for love was born. Isn’t that the way it seems to work? We humans go on our own way and get into incredibly difficult and sometimes dark situations and a cry for something different springs up deep within our collective souls for a way of love. So we have these songs that voice this longing. Another song that comes to mind is “We are the World” in 1985 star singers produced it to raise money to feed starving people in Africa.
God's Good News
That collective longing in the human heart, mind, soul and spirit is met when we accept the invitation of God to join Him in His covenant of love through Jesus Christ. A love that is so profound it is the one and only answer to what ails us all as a human race. I was reminded of the depths of this covenant of love this month as I have been participating in the spiritual discipline of writing scripture. My friend Grace introduced me to this practice and I have really enjoyed how it slows me down as I write down each word of God. It gives time to digest and reflect on the voice of God and gives me a window into His heart. With this practice, each month has a theme. This month’s theme is God is Merciful / God is Slow to Anger. But I think the theme for me has come through as God’s Covenant of Love.
One of the interesting things to me is all of the verses so far are from the Old Testament. Sometimes we can get the sense that God is more angry and judgmental in the Old Testament, but more loving and gracious in the New. But God never changes, He has always been, is now, and will be forever be loving. As I have gone through these verses, three aspects of God’s Covenantal love jumped out at me.
God's Steadfast Love
Over and over again we see the phrase in Scripture “the steadfast love of the Lord”. He is full of grace and mercy. If you asked random people if they would like to spend time with someone who was full of grace and mercy and steadfast love, I think most people would respond with a resounding “YES!”. Here is just a sampling of verses that speak of Gods steadfast love that I have written this month:
For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
God offers us a love the world really needs and longs for.
God’s Unconditional and Unbreakable Covenant
A covenant is different than a contract. Contracts in a way are self-centered, where we promise to do something but in return for a mutual benefit. Contracts end and can be broken. Contracts protect us in case the other party doesn’t hold up their part of the agreement. A covenant lasts forever and is unconditional and unselfish. Even is the other party is not holding up their end of the deal, the covenant remains. Listen to these words of God. He makes a covenant with us fully knowing we will not hold up our end of the deal, choosing to go our own way and yet He remains steadfast; longing for us to return to Him.
When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice.
Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them,
Yet he, being compassionate,
atoned for their iniquity
and did not destroy them;
he restrained his anger often
and did not stir up all his wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.
Please pardon the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now.”
We are a messy people. Yet in all of the mess, God is with us and makes a way that we can come back to Him. What hope that can provide to a broken world! If we are honest, we are all broken and in desperate need of saving. Too often we try to save ourselves or look to others or a change in our situation to provide relief. But God is still there, loving, pursuing, and waiting for us to come home.
A Choice To Return
Every invitation we receive requires a response. Sometimes we give no response at all but that is a response in and of itself. God continually extends an invitation to us to return to the covenant of love that He established with us from the beginning. However, we must make the choice to return. The word return is a clear theme in the verses I read wrote down this month. Here are a few:
you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, 2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.
For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land.
All it takes is an act of humility, to confess our misguided choices and sin and make the choice to return to God and walk in His ways. What might the world look like if people would make this life and world changing choice?
If you are looking for a different way to spend some with God, I highly recommend writing Scripture as something to try. If you search the internet for “scripture writing plans” there are many great examples.
Here is a link to the I am using this month: https://www.magnifyhimtogether.com/2019/05/01/god-is-verse-writing-plan-for-may/.
You know, the song almost had it right. What the world needs now is love, but not just a sweet love that makes us feel better and helps us to be more kind. What the world needs now more than ever is the only kind of love that can transform the human heart, the love God extends to us through Jesus Christ. God demonstrated His covenant of love by sending his Son, Jesus, to die on the cross, paying the penalty that our brokenness and rebellion deserved. Jesus rose again, defeating death, and He invites all of us to experience that kind of life. If you have already accepted that invitation, take time today and enjoy that gift. Or perhaps you have accepted the invitation but feel like you are wandering away(which we all do!), just make the decision to confess and return. This is part of the spiritual formation process.
If you have not accept God’s invitation, today would be the perfect day to accept Gods invitation into a covenant of eternal love and grace. It is a love you are truly seeking and leads to a life you have always wanted. I pray you decide to make the choice and come to Jesus.