I recently read an article about John Lennon’s bout with the Christian faith, and found this quote from a 1969 interview he did with a Canadian Broadcasting Network.
“I’m one of Christ’s biggest fans. And if I can turn the focus on the Beatles on to Christ’s message, then that’s what we’re here to do. If the Beatles get on the side of Christ, which they always were, and let people know that, then maybe the churches won’t be full, but there’ll be a lot of Christians dancing in the dance halls. Whatever they celebrate, God and Christ, I don’t think it matters as long as they’re aware of Him and His message.” – John Lennon (1969)
What a truly baffling statement! As the article points out, John had conflicting emotions about God, Jesus, and the church over his lifetime. But what I’ve been surprised to find is that John always seemed to really respect Jesus and agree with His “teachings.” Now, this is where I think John’s confusion could possibly be. John probably agreed with Jesus’s actions and lifestyle teachings (loving all people, giving to the poor, etc.), but he didn’t understand that Jesus’s central message was that of redemption from sin. It’s difficult to discern exactly what John knew or thought, since he would apparently have a good grasp on some Biblical passages, but next to no knowledge of basic theological truth at other times.
Somewhat paradoxically, John seemed to be closer to the truth of Christ than the other three. He became a Christian for a brief period in around 1977, but after a few months Yoko tried dissuading him from it by sticking the point of Jesus’s deity to him. John was skeptical throughout his life of Jesus’s divine nature, thinking that it was an attribute thrust upon Him by His followers. Unfortunately, John apparently never took the time to look into the historical manuscript evidence to see that Jesus claimed to be God several ways and numerous times in our earliest manuscripts. As has also been pointed out, why would He be crucified if He didn’t claim to be God?
It’s hard for me to say what John’s standing would be before God since I am not God and I don’t really know what ultimately counts before Him in these situations, but I do hope that despite the fact that John was not dedicated to Christ or the Gospel for the majority of his life that he was somehow able to be reconciled with Him.
What’s important to remember though, is that Jesus’s message was not just about love for others. It was also not about telling everyone that there are multiple paths to salvation. Jesus specifically taught that He is the Way, the Truth, the Life, and that there is no other way to God (John 14:6). When Bob Dylan released his Slow Train Coming album, John was dismayed because he saw Dylan (virtually John’s only peer) claiming that Jesus was the only way. John didn’t understand that the truth is by nature exclusive, and that to love Jesus is to love Truth.
Instead, John wanted an easier path for people like himself who simply weren’t willing to give themselves up to Christ. The cost of discipleship to Christ is simply too much, and it’s far easier to say that all roads lead to Him. Christ Himself does not allow for this, and we cannot allow ourselves to wander aimlessly looking for an easy solution that will satisfy us. John quit out on Christ in 1977 because he was still scared and unsure even after trying it, but this was most likely because John still had not fully surrendered himself to Christ. Satisfaction and joy is found in Christ alone, and weak interest that hangs onto your own pride is no better than unbelief.
Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief, and there ain’t no neutral ground. – Bob Dylan
Love and mercy to everyone in Christ!