Imagine and What Do You Do When You Can’t Stand Something Everyone Else Loves?

Posted: March 29, 2018 in Thoughts on art ministry and life
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I’m fully aware that I have posted on this song before. I’m equally sure that I will sound like I have an axe to grind and further, I’m sure I’m in the minority on this, but I can’t stand the song Imagine by John Lennon. This morning checking through my social media I saw a clip of a young man who was on the X-Factor. Abandoned with his brother and left for dead in Iraq he was rescued by a woman who adopted them both and changed the entire course of their lives. I was starting to get inspired, even excited to hear what he would do and rooting for him. It’s the kind of story that I love. Then they asked him what song he was going to sing and he said Imagine by John Lennon. It was like the wind fell out of my sails. I can’t stand that song.

You see when you start off a song with “Imagine there’s no heaven,” my first question is “Why would I want to do that?” Heaven is a place of tremendous hope for me. When this world is at its worst, when I face the loss of someone I love, the hope of heaven is such a tremendous comfort. It reminds me that there is a God who loves me and a Christ who died for me. To imagine there’s no heaven is simply not something I would even want to consider, and secondly if I do imagine it, I certainly don’t see the panacea that Lennon imagined. Quite the contrary.

At this point, I was about to flip past the video, something made me stay. I started to think why would this man want to sing this song and then a thought hit me. He was born and left for dead in Iraq, a place not exactly known for its religious freedom. Maybe that’s why. I’d have to imagine the beginning of his story could sour someone toward religion, but still his story didn’t end there. It’s one of rescue and redemption that is more than religion and should be grounds for tremendous faith. Then another thought hit me. Maybe I’m way overthinking this. Maybe he just likes the song, after all it seems everybody but me does.

I guess that’s what hit me. To some folks a song is just a song. This man’s story is beautiful in so many ways. It’s a rescue story and it ends in victory. That’s how I see my faith. I was lost and in many ways alone when Jesus came to my rescue. He allowed me to imagine there is a heaven and to believe it’s real and to find tremendous hope and purpose in this life, sharing his story. Maybe that’s why I can’t stand Imagine. I mean consider the rest of that first verse.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

If the song jumps the track on the first line, it’s the last line that kills it for me. I don’t have to imagine all the people living for today. I see it all around me as I watch people live as if there is no tomorrow and it makes me sad. I see it on the news as people do whatever they please and then expect the government to fix the repercussions of choices that are short sighted and foolish as they live for today. It’s not panacea. It’s the exact opposite of that. That this song is an anthem to so many is revelatory of all that is wrong in our world—a world that my God came to rescue. If you’re going to imagine, use your imagination to imagine something that will actually be better. Living for today ain’t all Lennon cracked it up to be.

  1. Dirt Road Cowboy says:

    Hi David, I usually don’t post on blogs much, but I just wanted to jump in here and let you know that you’re not alone. I never could stand that song!

    Even when I was a little kid and first heard it, I felt that it was saying, “Imagine that you have no reason to live. No hope, no future, only selfishness and then nothingness.”

    Whenever I heard it, a wave of depression and suicidal feelings would sweep over me, and I had to fight hard to get free. Today, I don’t have to struggle with those feelings when I hear the song somewhere, but I still don’t like it.

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