Why do Christians get so upset over John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’?

** 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.

“Imagine” at Strawberry Fields.

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.



Filed under Faith, Music

9 responses to “Why do Christians get so upset over John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’?

  1. jhornberg

    Very insightful.
    It is people taking the literal meaning of what he meant instead of the figurative one. Or, in better words, failing to do the central thing Lennon asks them to do: Imagine the world differently.

  2. I wonder if Lennon understood something about Jesus’ message: that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And that a time is coming and has already come, that the true worshippers will worship…

    All that to say that I can dig the idea that there’s no “heaven” above us, no Heaven or Hell for after we die. But that maybe “heaven” means doing God’s work here and now, on earth, today. And “hell” means forsaking God’s work here and now, on earth, today.

    • Absolutely. Some people take it too literal. But with art, you don’t have to do it that way. I love this song even more now because I still would like to imagine of a world that John wanted.

  3. I get what your saying man. I really like the song. I’m actually Catholic myself. It was one of his best after the break-up of the Beatles. I love the idea of the song, but not the direction it’s in, if you follow me. I like the message in that of the prospect of a peaceful world without any diverseness, where everyone can truly connect with one another. But the one thing I don’t like about the message is the thing I just said. If we really want to connect, ant truly get along, I don’t thing we should give up diversity. We should learn to all live, respect and accept each other for our own individual ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs, without prosecution for who you are and what you believe. That is how I think we can achieve the world that John Lennon is trying to describe to us. Do others think this, or is it just me?

  4. Karen

    the reason the words of the song are not enjoyed by Christians is because its depressing imagining things which we know dont bring peace and hope.. The song is spreading a lie. Why its important… Because Words are the most powerful thing ever in the universe. Scripture records that, the Word was with God, the Word WAS God. God Spoke everything into being. Consider the longest word, which is a DNA strand…it codes everything, all the information about you and I. Words are important. They spread ideas. Ideas & lies are the things that destroyed creation, and spreading lies causes concern about our loved ones falling away from the truth. xxx I know, it seems innocent, just a song which is real popular & played in response to war etc. but consider what he is actually saying.

    • Matt

      The Word is Jesus

    • Tom Howard

      Its plan he is saying to imagine there is no heaven, hell or countries. This is contrary to the truth, so why imagine against such? Because there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun. And as far as countries (Nations) go, these are Gods will. Acts 17:26
      “And (God) has made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” This is why most true believers don’t agree with John. These are not to be imagined against, as these things exist and for reasons! Thanks.

  5. Check out my version of ‘Imagine’ – It’s called ‘Re-Imagine’…

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