Imagine No Religion…and other Christmas Carols
In a recent interview with Marie Claire, Katy Perry announced. “I’m not a Christian.”
Millions of Christians collectively said, “Whew!”
Actually, most Christians over 40 years old probably said, “Who?”
More accurately, Miss Perry said “I don’t believe in an old man sitting on a throne,” and “I’m not a Buddhist, I’m not a Hindu, I’m not a Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God. I pray all the time.”
She believes in a higher power, but clearly doesn’t see the need for organized religion.
Just before Christmas a Facebook friend of mine wrote that while Imagine by John Lennon wasn’t typically considered a Christmas song, it was really meaningful to him and basically encapsulated the spirit of the season.
Imagine by John Lennon.
A song extolling the virtues of a world with no Heaven or religion seemed to my friend to be the perfect song to commemorate the birth of God’s son.
Let that sink in for a minute.
What does it mean that a song about a world with no religion seems entirely appropriate for celebrating the birth of Jesus?
Religious people (myself included) have done a really terrible job promoting religion.
It’s true. An absolutely terrible job.
Somewhere along the way, well intentioned Christians read the Bible and decided that other people needed to be saved from eternal damnation. Apparently, the best way to keep people for an overly warm, sulfuric future was to point out all the things they were doing wrong. And there’s a long list of sinners.
Including, but not limited to:
And that’s just from two verses. Yikes!
So, Christians have spent a great deal of time discussing, what is a sin, what isn’t a sin, how to be forgiven for sin, who can’t be forgiven, and where you’ll go if you do sin.
All of this sin talk has lead to a group of people (including many of my friends) that consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.”
One of my favorite new songs is On The Mend by a group called The Milk Carton Kids.
I could say that for a moment it all made perfect sense
No unholy posture, nothing heaven-sent
Hold the hand that leads you, there’s no god here to believe
What matters moves around us in the air we breathe
Sounds like the Milk Carton Kids, my Facebook friend and Katy Perry all agree. Religion? No thanks. God? Don’t need him. Heaven? I’ll take what I’ve got right here.
I wonder though, if Christians haven’t been taking the wrong approach? Sharing the wrong things? So much time has been spent discussing what is a sin and what isn’t a sin. Perhaps that isn’t even the main point?
I can’t imagine that the best way to show someone you love them is by telling them what a rotten sinner they are.
It would certainly make for some strange holiday greeting cards.
Maybe a better approach is the way Jesus did it. How did he deal with “sinners?”
He had dinner with them
He talked to them beside a well
He asked them to follow Him
He stooped down beside them and asked for those without sin to cast the first stone
He forgave them
He healed them
He showed them love and respect.
Pretty much the only people that Jesus seemed to condemn were hypocritical religious leaders. Many of his discussions with them started, “Woe unto you…” and trust me, that never ends well.
So, for 2014 my resolution is to spend a lot less time worried about how people choose to live and a lot more time sharing life with them. Sharing hope with them. Showing them kindness and grace. That’s what Jesus did. That’s what Heaven is like.
That’s what I choose to imagine.
God, what matters does move around us in the air we breathe. It’s the people we come into contact with each moment of each day. It’s the person right in front us. Right now, in this moment, may we be a model of love and of peace and of You. Amen.