Vain Imaginations


Photo by Ravi Roshan on Unsplash

February 22, 2018

The human heart universally carries a desire for peace and justice. The center of moral decision making is made for far bigger things than what kind of car to drive and what food to eat.

We watched the Olympic opening ceremony recently. These built-in human desires usually manifest at such times, although this one didn’t seem to strive so hard for weirdness in the name of art and peace (personal opinion) as others have in modern memory.

We never seem to realize that humanistic ideas will never achieve peace, because those ideas miss the nature of the human heart. The aging, wishful “hymn” written by John Lennon and sung innumerable times, formerly accompanied by raised cigarette lighters, and now by lit smartphones, expresses this desire for transcendence, while ignoring the source of transcendence. For some reason, it was used at the latest Olympics, and to be sure, people were rapturous.

Here are the lyrics, from Metrolyrics:

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 one

Imagine 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

Maybe I’m alone in this, but the song, in spite of the nice piano riffle, leaves me cold and empty every time. There’s nothing in the song, besides a wistful longing for something that can’t be had. This is because the condition of the human heart, apart from God, will never arrive at this destination! Or at the very least, the society in which human hearts live, will never get there.

Imagine there’s no heaven?

What can possibly be considered bad about the presence of heaven? I’m guessing the real problem is the presence of God. To some minds, His complete non-existence would be a splendid thing.

I can understand the desire for there to be no hell. But if you want no heaven – which boils down to wanting no God, then you will indeed have Hell. If you don’t want Him to be with you now, you won’t want Him then. That burning separation and complete emptiness and loneliness is the essence of hell.

Imagine all the people living for today.

Jesus said that we should not worry about tomorrow, because each day has enough troubles of its own. But future orientation He encouraged – being ready for the end of all things, being prepared for the New Heavens and the New Earth. His admonition to live for the day and not worry about tomorrow was an admonition to live in unfettered trust in His character. It was not to live in basic obliviousness to reality.

John wrote of nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. God hates religion also – the attempts of man to self-attain some level of goodness. I wonder if that’s what John meant. Or did He want God gone, so people could live as they well pleased?

And really, do we want there to be nothing worth dying for? Do we want only apathy about everything? Is there no truth or cause for which to (potentially) die? Is there no person important enough in your life to defend to the point of your own death?

I supposed John hoped these things would arrive all at once so there would not be a single person lagging behind in this wistful, fanciful, illusory state of existence. If so, he bypassed the reality of life and the condition of the heart of man. Even one laggard could mess up the Utopian plan. This is why people in charge who think like this resort to force of uncountable laws, to get people to conform.

This is something many people today also want to ignore. We like to say “Man is basically good”. All we need to do is change environment or spend more money, missing the need for transformed hearts, not conformed groups. Man is made in the image of God, but the presence of sin has smeared the image. That image is the good you see.

Imagine no possessions

Does this mean except for some beneficent governing body? We were made to create and to have ownership. It’s basic to the foundational book of Genesis. Greed is a matter of the broken human heart, not a result of ownership. When John writes of no need of greed or hunger and the brotherhood of man, could he have been longing for the eternal rule of Christ the King? Then is when such conditions will exist, not by any striving of the most well-intentioned people.

It makes me think of a song from the 70’s by Barry McGuire. It talked about facing a giant in his life which overwhelmed him and left him scrambling to find a way of help. He said “I thought about running, but where could I go? Everywhere I went I’d take me.”

That nails it.

Society can’t fix our problems by trying to fix groups. Many folks want to fix the society with multiplicities of laws. Society will change when hearts, one by one, are changed. When people possibly well-intentioned, but carrying the unconsidered sin germ in their hearts, construct ways and means to fix everything, wherever they go, they’ll take them, with all their failures and sin.

And so we wallow.

There is hope, and that hope lies in recognition of and submission to the Almighty and receiving what the Messiah has freely provided.

“Imagine” is just that – imagination with no substance, apart from bringing these hopes and desires to the King of the Universe.

Too bad the Olympic singers likely do not know this.

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