The one who claims to be in the light while hating a brother or sister is in the darkness even now. The person loving a brother and sister stays in the light, and there is nothing in the light that causes a person to stumble. But the person who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and lives in the darkness and doesn’t know where to go because the darkness blinds the eyes.
—1 John 2:9-11
To say music was varied around our house when I was a kid is an understatement. My father had albums spanning decades and crossing nearly every genre I can think of. I can’t count the number of mixtapes we made, played, and wore out over the years and every one of them was something different. One side might be my dad’s favorite songs from a Waylon Jennings album and the other side might be my mom’s Bob Seger playlist. Occasionally, my sister or I might get to listen to something we put together but mostly my parents played DJ.
One genre of music my parents played that stuck with through the years is something called yacht rock. I didn’t know anyone who owned a yacht or played the music on their boats, but I liked the music whatever it was called. One song I remember and still listen to is a song called Love is the Answer. The songwriter, Todd Rundgren, must have been a little tired of the harshness and cynicism of the world when he wrote it. I would guess his need of some joy and happiness found its way out through the lyrics. The chorus goes,
Light of the world, shine on me
Love is the answer
Shine on us all, set us free
Love is the answer
I think there is some similarity between the song and the words of 1 John 2. In a sense, the writer of 1 John is saying, love is how God and his children illuminate the world and if you don’t have love, you aren’t a child of God. It seems Todd Rundgren’s shorthand version—love is the answer—is a reminder of an ancient truth often looked down on as too simple, too Pollyanna.
But what if it isn’t. Think about how surprised people are, especially in public, when we act with unselfish love. Think of how relationships and lives are changed by random acts of kindness. Think of how the mood and feel of the world around you is altered in the face of genuine, peace seeking love.
Wouldn’t you rather live in that kind of world? Wouldn’t like your children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors to grow up and old in that kind of world? The only reason we can’t is we choose not to. We let darkness and hate define the world and make excuses for why nothing can be done. Yet, it only takes on candle to dispel the darkness. Imagine a community or town full of candles, maybe even a world? How much love could be shown? How much darkness dispelled?