Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon’

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.

I wrote a post on this a bit ago on the song Imagine. Here I broke it down into a few words.

why I hate imagineAfter yesterday’s post on negativity, some people will want to look at this one and say, “Physician, heal thyself.” Very rarely will I come out and say I hate something, and I know I run the risk of alienating a lot of people with this post. Imagine, is considered a classic by many and it is beautiful musically, but some of those lyrics are nails on the blackboard of my soul. It has so many beautiful thoughts in it but most of those thoughts are built around a lie.

It starts off by saying “Imagine there’s no heaven.” and already the song is destroyed in my heart. But for the sake of argument, let’s do it. Okay, there’s no heaven, now what? Well if there’s no heaven, then this life is all there is. There’s no possibility of anything better. Better stay totally healthy, because life offers nothing better than what you see before you. No hope of a life beyond this one. No hope of an eternal reward, come to think of it, no hope. Oh and while we’re at it, no real reason to be good and do good. Instead, the one who dies with the most toys wins and it’s only wrong if you get caught. Everyone is living for his own good, period. Sounds familiar in our world, doesn’t it? Is this what happens when we imagine there’s no heaven?

Lennon writes a little further down “nothing to kill or die for.” I’m okay with the first part, as I have no desire to kill, though if there’s no heaven or hell or final accountability, I think killing would become easier as people try to gather up all the toys they need to win, but I digress. Nothing to kill for would be great, except that Lennon is placing all the blame for violence on people of faith, and while there are many who have killed in the name of their gods, I serve a God who said pretty blatantly “Thou shall not kill.” Of course if we’re still imagining no heaven, so I would assume that also means no God, so why not kill? Oh wait, we don’t kill because of the goodness of our hearts. Yeah I look at the condition of our world and I’m just not seeing it.

But let’s take killing off the table, since I wouldn’t want to kill anyway, but how about nothing to die for? Now there’s a negative thought. Nothing I care about enough to give my life for. Well that eliminates my family, any one of whom I would give myself for. Why? Because I love them. So I guess if there’s nothing I would die for, then there’s nothing or no one I love. That feels pretty hopeless.

Of course you think the next line is the one that will throw me. “and no religion too.” As a man of the cloth, surely you think this line would offend me. It doesn’t, at least not so much. You might assume religion is what I am all about, but you would be wrong. I have seen all the negative things people have done in the name of religion, but my God is not about religion, as a matter of fact, you could rightly say (at least from the human action involved) that people killed Jesus in the name of religion. Jesus didn’t come to make us more religious, He came so we sinners could live in relationship with a perfect God in this life and forever in heaven, but wait, we’re imagining there’s no heaven. Yeah, I want to stop doing that right now. There is a heaven and even Lennon believed it… He just didn’t know it.

You see the last line of that verse, proves it. Lennon wrote, “Imagine all the people living life in peace.” I have imagined it, more than that, God created it. It’s called Heaven. We haven’t even gotten to the chorus, and the song has completely fallen apart.

At the end of the day, I hate this song because it’s hopeless. It places all the blame for the troubles of this world on God, but this world is not the world God intended. This is the world humanity chose when we chose to make ourselves our own gods. The answer is not imagining no heaven. Our current state of affairs exists precisely because people imagine there’s no heaven. Were we to repent and follow the God of heaven, things would change, but as it stands the world of peace Lennon imagined, exists only in the place Lennon asks us to imagine doesn’t exist. This song is pure folly, misused imagination.

That’s why I hate this song.

In the late sixties, John Lennon of the Beatles touched off a firestorm by saying that the Beatles were “bigger than Jesus.” Now of course I don’t believe that the Beatles were bigger than the creator of the universe, that would be stupid. I’m not even a Beatles fan, but in terms of pop-culture at that point in history, they were extremely influential, especially among teens, quite possibly more so than Jesus. Of course the Church was outraged (or so I’m told I was a first grade student at the time and had bigger fish to fry) as they should have been. The problem was their anger was directed at the wrong people. We were upset with a boastful English pop-star. We should have been upset with ourselves.

How does a rock band with a misspelled name become more popular than the Creator of the universe? I think the answer is that those who represent Him were asleep at the wheel and if you think they had problems, look at our culture today. Today lots of things are “bigger than Jesus” and it’s up to us to do something about it. It’s up to us to represent Him well, as He is as reflected in His Word. It’s up to us to use whatever gifts we have received to serve others. It’s up to us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s up to us to preach the Word in and out of season. It’s up to us to speak the truth in love. It’s up to us to humble ourselves. It’s up to us to love our enemies. It’s up to us to pray. It’s up to us to read, know and follow the Word of God and it’s up to us to lay down our pride, deny ourselves and take up our cross.

Jesus, speaking of going to the cross said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” Today, lifting Him up is up to us. Pointing to Him, going and making disciples, being His witnesses to the ends of the earth—these are our mission, church. We represent Him not as self-righteous judges, but as humble servants, using whatever He has given us in His name to bring Him glory. It’s up to us, but it’s all about Him, all about Jesus and as we faithfully serve, it’ll be as it was with John the Baptist. Jesus must become greater (in the eyes of the world He came to save) and we must become less until when people look at us, they see Him. The video below illustrates this. How can you use what you’ve been given (your gifts talents, resources,life) to lift Jesus up.

Nothing and no one is bigger than Jesus!

Bible Reading Guide
An important part of following God is knowing what He wants and a great way to know what He wants is to read His Word. Follow this plan and you will finish reading the Bible in a year.
2 Samuel 12-13
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