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Imagine There’s No Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky…

I find the above one of the saddest thoughts ever put to music. Unfortunately this song has become the Humanist theme song. At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and shutdown, a bunch of celebrities decided to sing this song acapella and share it with the world… for some reason. Why? It is a melancholy, hopeless song… at least on the surface.

And John Lennon is dead.

Imagine there is no heaven, no place where people finally find rest from a life of toil and struggle, pain and sorrow. Imagine there is nothing to look forward to as we grow old and our looks and strength fade, our bodies fail, and our friends and loved ones die one by one. Imagine no hope for something good beyond this finite, extremely short and difficult life; that we are dust in the wind; we are vapor trails. Nothing more.

Imagine there is no Judgment or hell, and all those who got away with rape and torture, murder and genocide, never ever pay for their evils. Imagine the evil people who enjoyed “good” lives here in prosperity and wealth, pleasure and power, and died painlessly, never having to face the consequences of what they had done. Imagine there is absolutely nothing in conscience or law, heaven or on earth, in this life or the next, to dissuade the person intent on living only for their own desire at any given moment—to lie, rob, steal, oppress, living only for today. Oh, wait…

Imagine all the people, living for today.

Imagine all the people not caring about long-term repercussions or consequences for actions, not caring about people they are stepping on, not caring about the people they are bullying, not caring about other people on the road, not caring about the permanent emotional and physical pain they are inflicting on others. Imagine all the people using others for sexual gratification, caring nothing for the person and only for the pleasure, caring nothing for catching or spreading disease or death, caring nothing for the babies conceived, caring nothing for children or spouses.

Sounds beautiful and utopian to me. Shall we do it?

Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for… And no religion, too.

At first it might seem that Lennon has gotten something right here. Throughout human history people have killed and died for countries, borders, and even cultures. Throughout human history people have killed for religions, philosophies, and worldviews. This is true. However, if we had no countries then there would be something, smaller things, cities perhaps, villages, tribes, family groups, spouses and children… and there would be others who envied and coveted these places, people, and things and plotted and schemed to take them.

Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger.

John Lennon had to say it because he was smart enough to realize there was a problem larger than countries and religions. One also needs to imagine no possessions, no ownership of anything, no businesses, no home ownership, no private property, no life insurance policies, no money, no umbrella over your head in the rain… The list would go on forever and this would make the song considerably longer, unfortunately. Perhaps he ignored the attempts to do some of these things throughout the 20th century. There were a lot of revolutions that sought to end religion… and private property… and even murdered people if they wore glasses since that showed their privilege. They took farms from people who had them (because others did not have them) and when there was no one left to do the farming, the famines came and wiped out tens of millions of people.

Watch the shows on the Oxygen Channel, if you dare, and you will find just about every possible reason people have murdered and people have died, unrelated to countries and religions, unrelated even to possessions. Imagine no spouses (thus jealousies and friction). Imagine no siblings (thus no sibling rivalries). Imagine no parents. Imagine no children. Imagine there is nothing under the sun which would cause one human being to murder or harm another human being.

Lennon ignores the inherent fallenness of human nature.[1] Consider that we cannot stop people from killing their own offspring if that pregnancy interferes with something else they desire, like a prom, a vacation, a job… We cannot keep people from throwing away spouses and children when they desire sex with some other man or woman or  child… We cannot stop people from hating people of opposing political parties, can’t stop them from killing bosses and co-workers, and cannot stop them from rioting and murdering in the inner cities…. G.K. Chesterton called the “the fact of sin… a fact as practical as potatoes”[2]—meaning it is as obvious as the nose on your face. He went on to say that people may debate or doubt the Christian doctrine of original sin, but they do not doubt what they can see in the street every day. Have you watched the news recently?

Imagine all the people, living life in peace…

John Lennon is imagining a world without lust, without stealing, without lies and slander, without envy, without anger and jealousy, etc. He is imagining a sin free world.

A brotherhood of man.”

In the ultimate irony, Lennon is imagining heaven; he is imagining the new heavens and the new earth with Christ on the throne at the very center of everything. His utopian vision is borrowed from the Christian worldview, a future with no nations or boundaries, where people of every tribe, language, people, and nation[3] have finally become one people, one nation in Jesus Christ. No more religions; simply God and His redeemed people.[4] Nothing to kill or die for. All people living in peace.[5] No need for possessions because we will have God with us. No more greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man.[6]  

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:3-8)

I often think of what John Lennon experienced immediately after he passed from this life on December 8th, 1980. I know the fear that used to wash over me when a tough kid in class would say to me, “After school.” Some know the fear of standing before a judge for sentencing. Many know the fear of hearing the words “cancer” or of the horror and fear that floods over us at the death of a loved one. I imagine that fear times ten thousand when John Lennon “woke up” on the other side, in the afterlife, realizing that he’d taken the wrong road (Matthew 7:13). John Lennon had longed for the true ends for which God designed humanity,[7] but (as far as we know) he never turned in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ.[8]

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21).

It is even more horrible to imagine John Lennon today—forty years later—still living that same horror he experienced on that first day, living in a Christ-less eternity, separated from all good (since all good emanates from God), and experiencing that sensation every day, now, and forever.

Reader, may his life and death, and even his philosophy, be a billboard to you—not to delay but to cast yourself upon Jesus Christ in order to find mercy, forgiveness of sins, and a new, eternal life.[9]

Join with Christ’s people.

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 be as one.


To read my other Bible.org columns check out here: https://blogs.bible.org/author/stephen-j-drain/

[1] There is a Demotivators poster that makes the amusing statement: “As long as we have each other we will never run out of problems.

[2] Found in chapter two of his excellent book entitled Orthodoxy.

[3] Revelation 5:9, see also Galatians 3:28.

[4] Revelation 21:1-8.

[5] “The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace, but it means far more than a peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight—a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be” (Cornelius Plantinga Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, a Breviary of Sin, copyright 1995 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., page 10.)

[6] I acknowledge that the skeptics and secularists will say that the Theists hope for heaven is wishful thinking. Their argument can also be turned on them: Perhaps it is the secularist’s idea of no heaven that is wishful thinking. Alister McGrath has said, “Would there not be excellent reasons for supporting that [the Atheist or the sinner or the person who wants to be answerable to no one] might hope that God not exist, given what awaits him on the Day of Judgment?”

[7] One of C.S. Lewis’ most famous quotes is, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

[8] There is some hope, perhaps, that he had a change of heart but with very little detail whether He met Christ or not I do not know. Check out this article: http://americanvision.org/4776/john-lennon-republican-theist-anti-evolutionist/

[9] Read John 3:16-19, John 6:35-40, John 11:25-26, Acts 2:38-40, Romans 10:9-10, etc.

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J Drain

"Rescued, ransomed, and saved because of the love of God the Father, through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, thanks to faithful preachers and teachers of the Word, attained by the perfect life and merit of Jesus the Messiah, His substitutionary death and physical resurrection from the dead. Completely undeserved and gifted to me." Steve would label himself an apprentice Christ follower, an Evangelical Christian with strong Reformed beliefs, a "Five Point Calvinist" (if you must). Steve loves discussing and debating the two "taboo" subjects: Politics and Religion. He tries to read and listen to a minimum of forty books a year and realizes that no matter what topic or genre, whether Bible, theology, Christianity, history, biography, philosophy, political, social commentary, pop-culture, or even fiction, they all tie together in the spider's web of worldview. His favorite authors are C.S. Lewis, James R. White, Gregory Koukl, R.C. Sproul, J. Gresham Machen, G.K. Chesterton, J. Budziszewski, and Peter Kreeft. He loves Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Voddie Baucham, and Dwight L. Moody. Steve's hobbies are generally reading and writing, music, hiking, and laughing. He has been writing songs/lyrics since the age of eight and has played in a few Christian Rock bands. He has written poetry, several biblical studies over the past decades, and has one finished book manuscript entitled, “Shaken Faith: When God Has Let You Down” (written with friend and co-author Al Rossi). He has also written for the now defunct Examiner website as the Philadelphia Christian Perspectives Examiner. He wishes he could write some fiction.

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