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It’s been over thirty years since John Lennon encouraged us to “imagine there’s no heaven,” in a song that became an anthem for many. Yet if Mr. Lennon were alive today, I suspect he’d be disappointed because whatever else has changed since his death, people are not imagining an afterlife without heaven (this is true for even those who embrace his song). In fact, it seems to me that more people than ever believe in heaven. Interestingly, there have been at least a couple of best-selling books in the recent years (The Lovely Bones and The Five People You Meet in Heaven), that have as their main characters people who have died and gone to heaven. So sorry Mr. Lennon, people are not going to stop believing there is a heaven.

But what is remarkably curious about these books though is that while the authors were unable to imagine there is no heaven, they had no such problem with God. For in both of these books, God is conspicuously absent. Heaven exists, but it seems to do so largely without God.

My guess is that Mr. Lennon was too much of an idealist to have foreseen how pragmatic we are. Heaven is too good of a place, too powerful of a concept for us to completely jettison. Instead, we’ve done what we’re so good at doing – we’ve kept what we wanted to believe in and conveniently dismissed what made us uncomfortable (in this case, God Himself). Think of the lunacy of this view, believing in heaven but not in the God who made it, believing in His good gifts, but not in Him. We’ve walked through the cafeteria line and taken what we wanted and pretended the rest doesn’t exist.

So while we haven’t been able to imagine an afterlife without heaven, we’ve somehow managed to imagine a heaven without God. I don’t know what Mr. Lennon would think of it but I’m sure God must sigh in disappointment.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” (
James 1:17).

Imagine there’s no God? We know better!
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