** These are thoughts of something that I am thinking out loud and it may not make sense in this blog post. But I wanted to write it. I don’t know if I am right or wrong, which is why I am writing it and putting it out there.
Today marks the 33rd anniversary of John Lennon’s death. As a huge Beatles fan, this day reminds me of a great man we lost. It’s sad because he was only 40 at the time and he changed the world with his music and activism and he was on the brink of doing even more work.
One of the songs that he is known for is “Imagine.” In fact, it’s his most famous song as a solo artist. The song is great as it talks about peace in the world and how it would be great if we could imagine where we are all together as one without division.
Unfortunately, the song has received some not so positive reactions from Christians.
The above photo was posted by a famous pastor and he asked for people’s reactions to it. Here are two that stood out.
This has always been the reaction I hear from several Christians about the song. Yet I am Christian and I don’t feel the same way. Am I wrong? Is it not OK for me to love this song?
That first tweet addresses this verse from the song:
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…
OK. Yes, as Christians we know that there is a heaven and we aren’t living for today. But is that a reason to hate this song? I mean, it’s not like the overall message of the song is evil. In fact, the overall message is a very good message and it shares some values that Christians have: love, care, no condemnation.
But because John asks us to strip away things that hold us back, is that really so evil? I interpret it differently.
One of the reasons why people turn away from Christianity is because Christians are obsessed with heaven in an unhealthy way. That turns them into these people. The obsession of living for the future in heaven has turned Christians into really crazy people. In fact, the obsession is very un-Christ-like.
The message that John was sending wasn’t for people to forget that heaven exists (if you believe it does exist). In fact, he is asking us to look at what heaven has turned us into. There’s a difference between people who live for the God in heaven and for the people who live in fear because of God in heaven.
I have my faith in heaven. I believe in it. But I’ve been that guy who is so obsessed with heaven that my entire personality and approach to people turn me into an asshole. I don’t even treat people with respect or view them as equals because of the “holier than thou” mentality that heaven has given me. I wasn’t respectful. I’ve seen people do it too.
I’m not saying heaven is bad, but if it’s perceived wrong, then it really is harmful. That’s what that lyric means to me. It’s not necessarily telling me to not believe in a heaven I know exists. It rather asks me to imagine my life if I let go of my “I gotta convert everyone to go to heaven” mentality. Maybe once when I approach people I don’t first see them as a Christianity conversion project. I can see them first as people, just like the song suggest, and by then we can build together.
The second tweet is a hard one to take in because I don’t know if John was lost. Maybe he didn’t accept Jesus, but to judge him and say he was lost is kind of harsh. Is that what Christians are supposed to do? I know John knew about Jesus and understood how the corruption of religion has hurt the world.
And once again, ironically John had a better understanding of people of the world than some Christians do too. Plus, the reaction to this song from Christians is very judgmental and very hurtful.
Even though this song talks about some Christ-like qualities, not all of it is on the plane with Christianity. Yet somehow, this song talks of some Christian qualities that some Christians tend to forget.
This song will never be sung at church. This song doesn’t reflect God wholly. But is this song that bad that it turns certain people to react this way? I don’t think so. It’s not like this song is telling us to hate people, to hurt them. No, this song is a simple song telling us that we can strive for peace — and that’s not bad at all.
A few other thoughts:
- Why are Christians obsessed with this song? You don’t have to listen to it.
- Is it OK for me to like songs that aren’t Christian songs?
- If John Lennon wasn’t Christian, is it wrong for me to still be a fan of his work?
Yeah, so here are my open thoughts unfiltered. I am not saying that I am 100% right. But having seen what some Christians have reacted to this song from these tweets and from things I’ve seen in the past, I am not sure if they’re 100% right.
Just some thoughts. Hopefully it made sense. It did in my head. Let me know what you think. I’m all open ears and heart.