According to Jeff Goins, if you Google “God,” this song by John Lennon comes up as one of the top ten search results. I’ll include the video below, but here are some of the words (read all the lyrics here):
God is a concept,
/ By which we can measure,
/ I’ll say it again… / I don’t believe in magic,
/ I don’t believe in I-ching,
/ I don’t believe in bible,
/ … I don’t believe in Jesus,
/ I don’t believe in Kennedy,
/ I don’t believe in Buddha, …I don’t believe in Beatles, /
I just believe in me.
Before you believers write the dude off, let’s dig beneath the surface a bit. What happened here? What led him to this conclusion?
Of course, it’s important to note that Lennon wrote this right after the Beatles broke up, and he was understandably disillusioned about a lot of things. Yet, a few years before this song was written, John and the rest of the band sought out a Hindu teacher named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who specialized in transcendental meditation. My personal belief is that they had seen what the world had to offer, and it just wasn’t enough. In the bands’ own words, they shared in an interview:
RINGO: Just one of those things that happened, you know, as life went on.
PAUL: We’d been into drugs, and we were — there’s the next step, then, is — then you’ve got to try and find a meaning, then.
GEORGE: That’s where I really went for the meditation.
As the story goes, they found out that their teacher had sexually assaulted Mia Farrow, and they left, thinking the guy was a quack and a pervert. John, having been abused by the world through the false gods of sex, drugs, and fame had turned to religion and was similarly disappointed with what he found there. No wonder.
It makes me think about all the stories I hear from people who have been abused by Christian churches to the point that they’ve almost given up on God. Whether right or wrong, people’s perceptions of God are often communicated through flesh and blood.
I still remember the day that Lennon was shot and killed. At the time,
I didn’t think a whole lot about it other than how sad it was. I didn’t
really consider whether or not the former Beatle was a Christian. I
guess I kind of cavalierly assumed he wasn’t, but didn’t really care to the point of personally grieving the loss.
These days, when celebrities pass away, I am wondering more
and more where they stand in relationship to God, like when Heath Ledger passed away, for instance.
And if they don’t know Christ, how should we react? Do we callously tell them they’re bound for hell as if we are glad about it? Or do we like the people in the Old Testament put on sack cloth and ashes and grieve until our cries reach heaven? It’s a question worth asking. The next time a celebrity, or even your next-door neighbor, dies, what will you do?
As you watch the video and listen to the song, consider someone who has been hurt, broken, and disappointed, someone who is perhaps not unlike you.
Photos from johnlennon.com