I was minding my own business the other week, eating some scrumptious tenders at my favorite local chicken joint when a familiar song came over the in-store radio. Well, I say “familiar” because I was knowledgeable of the song’s existence and of who sang it. I knew the chorus — kinda — and had undoubtedly heard it many times before. I couldn’t recall the verse lyrics, though.
The song was “Imagine” by John Lennon, a campfire-esque, kumbayah of hippie goodness. The song is widely considered one of Lennon’s best works (his best selling solo song) and has been used to promote peace around the world since it was written in 1971. It’s message, however, is anything but campfire fare. As I digested both song and chicken, the chicken and I grew increasingly irritated. Here are the lyrics:
“Imagine”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…Imagine there’s no countries / It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for / And no religion too
Imagine all the people / Living life in peace…You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will be as oneImagine no possessions / I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger / A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people / Sharing all the world… You may say I’m a dreamer / But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us / And the world will live as one
I have been digesting the words to this song for a few weeks now. It just won’t leave my mental playlist! Ever had that happen with a song? It can be either a blessing (if the song is great) or really annoying. So I thought I would share my thoughts in hopes that the song will finally leave me alone! Well, it’s worth a try, eh?
In the song, Lennon paints a picture of peace that is simplistic and naive. All we have to do is rid ourselves of everything that has ever divided us and we all will “live as one” in peace. Sounds good, right? Ummm…. not so much. The song’s philosophical conclusion is that if mankind were left to himself — his inherent nature — then there would be peace. Assuming the nature of man, at his heart, is good. But is it?
The idea of eliminating barriers like moral philosophies and possessions comes straight out of the Eastern religions that Lennon and his partner, Yoko Ono, were heavy into back in 1971. Those philosophies, like Buddhism, teach — at their core — that the universe has one cosmic energy force that must be balanced to function properly. The yin and the yang, so to speak. When people get rid of the bad stuff in their lives then what is left will be good. When everyone is good, then the universe is at peace. In this philosophy, individualism is frowned upon and the end goal is to lose oneself in order to join with the universe (“nirvana”). When we die, we join the universe in its cosmic force. No heaven, no hell. No eternal life as you or I may understand it.
“Imagine” flies in the face of biblical truth. God’s word states that since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, mankind at his heart is evil, not good — prideful and selfish. There is no peace not because of religion or countries or possessions but because mankind — at his heart — is in rebellion against God (see Rom 5:12-14). We seek ourselves. Eliminate religion and countries and possessions and we will still seek ourselves! In Romans 3:10-12, Paul quotes Psalm 14, “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one.” In 3:23, Paul states, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Until you deal with the sin problem, there can be no peace.
So if humanity was left to his or her own devices, he and she would still do evil things. But of course, there is a solution. Just as sin entered the human race through Adam, righteousness entered through Jesus (Romans 5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:22). And only through faith in Him, and the resulting indwelling of the Holy Spirit inside our hearts, can we have peace with God and with one another (Rom 5:1). Because without the former (peace with God) there can be no latter (peace with each another).
One final thought on the concept of peace. There is a utopian picture of a peaceful earth described in the Bible, where mankind is living in bliss and even the ferocious animals are “chillaxing” together. The prophet Micah, living in the 700s B.C., saw a vision. He divinely “imagined,” if you may allow.
In his vision (Micah 4:1-4) he saw a peaceful setting where the Lord’s throne is set upon the mountains and people come to Him from everywhere. They learn from Him and He righteously judges. People melt their swords and make plows instead. They turn spears into workman’s tools. There is no more war. Each person sits in peace under shade trees and in vineyards. It’s a “Utopia” under God’s rule!
Isaiah extended this vision by saying that on this “new earth” the wolf will sit down next to the lamb, the leopard next to a small goat, and the ox next to a lion (11:6)! He says the wolf and lion will even eat grass — and not mutton, beef or goat (65:25)! People in this new world live in happiness and joy, living long and enjoying the fruit of their good labor (65:17-24).
This world is yet to come, according to Revelation 21, and it will be amazing beyond belief! God will dwell with mankind — without barriers — in a world where sin has been judged, conquered and banished. Our hearts will be righteous because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and there will be no war and no divisions.
Imagine? As my Scottish friends would say, “Aagh!” Believe it, for it will happen. God’s not about breaking His own promises. Micah says, “The mouth of the Lord of Hosts has promised this.” In Revelation 22:6, the angel says to John, “These words are faithful and true.” When sin is gone, there will be peace. And that day will come when our Lord Jesus returns.
Come, Lord Jesus!