(Photo: The Beatles/Facebook)
In 1967 The Beatles were asked to write a song with a message that could be easily understood by the world. The song was to be broadcast as part of Our World, the first live, international satellite television production ever. The result was the performance of their song, All You Need is Love, to close the One World live broadcast on 25th June 1967.
One World had the largest television audience ever up to that date: an estimated 400-700 million people in 25 countries around the world.
All You Need Is Love captured the utopian sentiments of the Summer of Love era of 1967 and went on to top singles charts in Britain, the United States and many other countries. Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager, said of the song, ‘It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message. The nice thing about it is that is cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything.’
John Lennon attributed the song’s simple lyrical statements to his liking of slogans and television advertising. He likened the song to a propaganda piece, stating, ‘I’m a revolutionary artist. My art is dedicated to change.’ Author Mark Hertsgaard viewed the song as The Beatles ‘most political song yet’ up to 1967 and considered it the origins of Lennon’s posthumous standing as a ‘humanitarian hero.’
The simplicity of the song, and the repetitive nature of the chorus, has been ingrained into the musical hearts of millions of people around the world; there wouldn’t be many people in the West who couldn’t at least sing the chorus.
I’m not exactly sure why All You Need Is Love was considered to be so revolutionary at the time. I can’t quite work out why Lennon would see this song as being dedicated to change. Why did the charts elevate this song to international fame when the message was nothing new, it wasn’t revolutionary, and it’s hardly a stimulus for change.
The heart of this song had been shown to the world 1967 years before it was conceived in the minds of its musical creators, and even much before then, back to the creation of the world, and even before that. Out of an act of love God created man and woman in his image, equally, so that they might experience the kind of the love that God the Father, Son and Spirit had known together, for, quite a while.
The heart of this song
The heart of this song was lived out when God so loved the world that He sent His only Son into our world, so that whoever believes in Him might have life, and life to the fullest (the words Jesus said to an audience of a few).
The implication of this song was on the lips of Jesus and all the New Testament authors as they in one united voice exhorted God’s people with the foundational message that to really reflect God in the world, then all you need is love, for one another.
There are almost 60 statements we read in the New Testament where love is all you need. Jesus utters the words ‘love one another’ in John 13:34 and John 15:12. Paul says the same words in Romans 13:8. Peter and John share in this line in their letters.
Throughout the letters written to new Christians in the early church, the love is all you need message is given through the myriad of ‘one another’s’ that litter the New Testament, that blow through the lives and communities of the day as they sought to be the image-bearers of the resurrected Christ.
Be at peace with one another, be devoted to one another, live in harmony with one another, stop passing judgement on one another, serve one another, forgive each other, accept one another, carry each other’s burdens, bear with each other, teach one another, be patient with one another, encourage each other, pray for each other, offer hospitality to one another, don’t grumble against each other, and on and on they go like a scratched record that the needle just can’t get past.
I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the one another’s that punctuate all the letters written to Christian communities are in fact what we should call miracles; when this love of one another actually works itself into the lives of those who call themselves followers of Jesus, miraculous things happen – relationships are restored, lives are healed, reconciliation between nations, between people groups, between diverse people living in the same land, is possible.
So maybe Lennon was right after all, All You Need Is Love is a revolutionary concept, because when worked out in reality it can change the world. I sometimes struggle with the idea of miracles healing headaches or sore fingers or minor ailments; I sometimes struggle to see what this actually does in the life of the recipient that actually makes a difference in the world.
But love, the kind of love that comes from the transformative power of God as seen in Christ and is with us in the power of the Holy Spirit, love that changes us, is really all we need.
And so, love, is really all we need. It’s harder than it sounds, but it really is the hero of humanity.
Grant Harris is the Senior Pastor of Windsor Park Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand, a church that was planted 67-years ago and comprises a broad mix of people who are seeking to do life and faith, together. Grant sometimes loves people, but is trying to love them more. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Harris is a reformed banker who has been the Senior Pastor of Windsor Park Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand, for eleven years. Grant’s passionate about seeing people catch a glimpse of who they are in Christ and living out the difference that makes. He’s tried living according to the patterns of this world and found that those patterns came up short. He’s still a work-in-progress and always will be. You can contact Grant at email@example.com.