World Without Christ World Without Christ

Most of us have either heard or heard of John Lennon's song: Imagine (there's no heaven... lyrics). On the surface it sounds wonderful: a utopia where everyone is one--no divisions, conflict, struggle or want—here, now. There's just one problem with that: Sin. Read the llyrics again. What do you see missing? Two things: the Redemption of man and most importantly, the Absence of God.

One does not have to look far nor into the too distant past to see evidence of that in its most frightening horrific form. Lennon's own life ended tragically. Sin is inescapable no matter how much we may imagine. Evil exists in the world and lies within the heart of the best of us whether we act on its impulse or not. And what of that I wonder was Lennon's suggestion for us? How do you suppose He proposed to expiate sin and evil from the heart of man, something that can not be seen nor touched by the most learned scientist, skilled surgeon or world philosopher?

Following Mr. Lennon's suggestion of imagining "no heaven, no hell, no religion", let me propose this: Imagine There Is No Christ! Sit for a moment and reflect. Close your eyes and look with the mind's eye. Imagine there is a world without Christ, without His church, His Christians, without God, without the evidences in creation of His nature of order and purpose. In our arrogance and self-nurturing ego many assume, as did Lennon, we possess of our own making all the desirable attributes of righteousness and good intentions toward others, that it has no source outside ourselves, originating out of our own sense of goodness, special being and self-healing. There isn't anything inherently wrong with any of us other than flawed thinking and a lack of acceptance, understanding and imagination. If we would all just come together and agree to see the world and each other in the same single way there would be world harmony. Miraculously, we would all live and sing in tune as "one." The problem with that is obvious on its surface. Who determines the "same single way" all are to agree and live harmoniously? How do so many independent thinkers and individual lives, corrupted by sin and evil, come to that point—generation after generation? And what if, let's say for argument purposes, just one doesn't comply?

For centuries December 25th has been chosen to observe and celebrate the birth of Jesus to our world. He was called: Immanuel—God with us. Based upon the teaching of Scripture, I am of the opinion that Jesus did not observe one single birthday of his earthly existence. There is no where in the New Testament indicating so, unlike many of the other Jewish festivals and feasts He did observe. But we are eternally grateful that He was born in our nature and gave us the record of His purpose in coming. And what a life that was and a record it is! Believe He is God or not, none of His critics through the centuries have denied His existence or exemplary life. But just suppose He did not come. Suppose there has been no Christ. Suppose there is no Christian in the world. Suppose we live without that innate sense of a sovereign and saving God, as Lennon suggests.

It is an indisputable fact that mankind has benefited the greatest and individual liberty its fullest where ever the teachings of Christ have been sought to be lived out in the human heart as taught and intended. The message of the angels at the announcement of His birth is heralded over and over again into the sphere where one solitary soul hears His call and comes to Him for life-changing acceptance—where the heart of His teachings are lived out through that individual in his immediate society: Peace on Earth and goodwill toward ALL men. I'm not talking about the corruption of that message and the evil things evil men have done in His name that has brought ill-repute upon those who live in every generation quietly in the shadows, true in spirit. Do not confuse what may be seen outwardly among many as representative of all. Gandhi is quoted as once having said: "I'll take your Christ but not your Christian." And I say to Gandhi: and who set you apart as being morally and spiritually superior to the lowliest and weakest for whom Christ died? No, Gandhi, I will take the weakest of His chosen over your self-perceived and attained enlightenment any day, any day.

Every where and every time one comes to Christ there is a coming of God into that sphere of the world as at His advent. It is as a celestial comet striking. A spark explodes in darkness. The ripples of His nature of Light and Love emanate in the beginning in tiny pulses and ripples, expanding to cresting tides upon those in its wake as that one is continually being sanctified and illuminated by Christ's radiant manifestation in that person's life. From what other institution comes one who desires peace, goodwill, love and unity of his fellowman greater than for himself? One who will, of his own volition, sacrifice at all cost for his neighbor's need. Is it from our public educational system or higher institutions of learning? Or, has it come from within our country, as many think from the northeastern social class that seek the highest ranks of our government and walk the halls of its institution as lords over the rest of a peasantry class? You know of which I speak. We cannot escape the images of their faces and contemptuous condescending sound of their voices thrust upon us by a national media. What other institution or "religion" has given to the world man's greatest good to all men?

I wish I were skilled to adequately paint for you a portrait in words of a world devoid of Christ, of Christians, of His church He gave to the world. Begin, if you will, by simply listing each of His attributes and their evidence seen to what ever degree immediately around you where you live. John tells us in his opening words that He is the "Word" of God Incarnate. He is God's message to mankind, His good news to a fallen and broken world, news of inexhaustible hope. He is the answer to any man or woman's deepest despair and blackest sin. With Him, all things are possible. With Him, there is hope regardless how impossible your life may seem. For one who has exhausted their search for hope in every corner of their life, every facet of their world, there remains one without limit. Now imagine after you have searched your soul weary down every avenue of your life for an answer, a solution, a hope for reprieve from your greatest burden, pain and strife, one that has brought you so low it seems without it your very life will soon ebb from you, there is none to be found. You have turned and returned empty in your every search. All have been in vain. With no other place to search, your search at its end, there is no Christ as well! Imagine!

Continuing in John's first chapter, we see that Christ is the Light of the world. Men stumble where there is darkness. Men do evil deeds in darkness to hide their doings. Imagine life on Earth without its sun and all its benefits, its moon. Imagine the degree of that darkness. History records, even in our generation, times and places where that Light has been all but extinguished. And to what end? Some of the greatest horrors raged from the evil dark hearts of men and visited such violence upon its victims we stand in silent shock as we read of their exploits or see images of their deeds. And yet, here in America, there are many who wish to stamp out that Light as it was attempted in His time. Do we never learn? Are we doomed to repeat in every generation the same tragic fate of creating a world that will inevitably come without that Light? Imagine! Stand with the Hebrews in Egypt mustered on the shores of the Red Sea before Moses raised his staff to secure their safety. Imagine! Look down upon the evil seen in the faces of those who chanted: "Crucify Him, Crucify Him", as Jesus, his life all but drained from the torture of the previous night, stood on the balcony before Pilate on that final dreadful morning of His life. Imagine! Look up at that tortured and bloody body on the Cross, all soaked in red, in midday darkness when God took away that Light on that fateful day. Imagine! Walk past the chambers of gas and burning flesh in Auschwitz during modern mid-twentieth century and one of the world's greatest conflicts and dare look, listen, smell. Imagine! And more recently, place yourself inside the classroom of slaughtered innocent little ones in that quiet New England village, Newtown, and tell me you do not believe in evil in the absence of Light. Imagine!

You may continue with your own imagining, imagining that world without Christ, but He did come. He remains still, in the heart of every one who has embraced His Light and Love. Goodwill and peace is His intent for all. The herald of the angels of that morning continue to echo in your world today. His call is clear for all to come and see with your own eyes the "Lord's Christ"—the "salvation of the Lord" and depart in peace (Luke 2:25-32). But it will not for ever. While there still is Light, still is Christ, still is His church in the world, it is expedient for everyone to open their hearts to it who wish to seek refuge from the darkness that grows and will overtake our world when His Light is forever and finally removed.

In his last verse, Mr. Lennon invites everyone to come to his views and imaginations with a serious misconception:

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

He could not have been more misquided, falsely leading others by his delusion. The world, your life, does not change by imagining. The answer you seek, Lennon sought, does not lie within. It is not borders that separate us, nor race, nor religion. Sin is what separates us, man from his neighbor and man from his Creator. It takes more than just the desire to be one, a human effort to eliminate outward divisions. Only by hearing and receiving God's Light into your heart will peace, genuine lasting peace, peace and goodwill toward all men, ever come, to you or to the world. The unity among men Mr. Lennon seeks in his song comes only from the unity of all men with the One Holy Father through His Christ. This is the kingdom Jesus asked us to pray for in His model prayer taught to us. This was His prayer in His final hours on Earth (John 17:20-23). This is His message of hope in the Christmas season, and all seasons throughout the year. His song, His hope, His message is never out of season. This is the Good News for our lives today. It does not come from our "imaginations." Look to the heavens. Seek "His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven". See His Light. Hear His angels sing... and O, dear one, come, come; bring your heart, not your imaginations, not to Bethlehem, but to Calvary. Come. For...

...He is Alive. He is Risen, and as He prayed, still He seeks to make us all one, in His kingdom. In His kingdom, there will be no divisions—"neither Jew nor nor free...neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) This, His kingdom, has been and remains the gift of God to us down through the ages. Imagine!

- Author: Ken Livingston

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