Thursday, August 16, 2012


Every time I hear John Lennon's classic lyrics something bothers me. I find myself getting ever so slightly angry, not so much with the sentiment expressed, but with the mirror the lyrics hold up to the church. I was reminded of this with the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

I think my reaction can be summed up in two questions:

1. Do they understand what they are singing? A children's choir signing about imagining no religion as the route to peacefulness, no heaven or hell etc. Has anybody sat down and thought about what that all might mean? Singing without thinking is something we're all familiar with in church. We sing bind us together and tear into each other, we sing about one faith, one Lord and then proceed to divide ourselves along sectarian lines.

2. How come we've become the problem? When the expression of faith becomes the reason for the problems in the world then we need to take a deep look at the way we express our faith. Lennon wrote:

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
Okay, I know Jesus spoke about wars and rumours of wars, and I know that true peace won't come in a world as broken as it is, but to live in peace is a gospel goal and we must work at helping people see that faith is not the start of the problem but the solution to it. We don't do that by declaring war on others and justifying so doing on the basis of our insecurities.

John Lennon's song hold up a mirror, we need to see the reflection. In many ways perhaps the lyrics actually reflect a truer picture of the gospel than we might otherwise give them credit for doing. Maybe God's dream was not heaven above us and hell below, or a multiplicity of ethnic groups at odds with each other or even  to see people protecting what they think they own and leaving others to go hungry, poor and naked.

Maybe that's why I struggle with the sentiment. It's not anti-Christian it's actually more truly Christian than I can bear.

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