Rewritten from “Let’s Pretend” (Reflection article from June 13, 2018)
Some of us may remember hearing John Lennon’s song Imagine on the radio in the early 70s. The lyrics plead for us to envision a world of peace and unity where all are one, where there’s no hunger, greed, and where everyone shares equally.
Can you imagine a world like that? Where love always wins, the world is united, cooler heads prevail, and every person is completely equal? The truth is, to experience a world like that requires imagination, because that world doesn’t exist.
I long for peace. I want to reflect love, encourage unity, and remain calm with those who disagree with me. I long for senseless violence to cease and desire to do all I can to be a constructive voice against evil in this world. However, to imagine that we can achieve a world of peace without conflict is naïve.
The disciples imagined that Jesus’ goal during His time here was to take command of an earthly kingdom where peace would flourish. He jolts their perception of utopia by reminding them His mission is not to bring peace to this world, but a sword.
"Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” - Matthew 10:34 (NRSV)
Imagination can be a beautiful thing, but because our hearts are wicked, sometimes our imaginations are too.
“Do not envy the wicked, nor desire to be with them; for their minds devise violence, and their lips talk of mischief” - Proverbs 24:1-2 (NRSV).
To dream of what could be, inspires us to action. When imagination conjures up images of a better way of life, a new solution to a problem, or intention to benefit others, it’s a good thing. But history reveals that imagination is not always altruistic. Not everyone’s thoughts are wholesome.
If we imagine a world without God, as Lennon’s song does, it eliminates moral restraint. Without the conflict between opposing worldviews, as desirable as it may seem, living in a world without moral restraint is problematic because not everyone’s imagination is unselfish.
As long as there is sin, there will be conflict. Wicked people will imagine and do wicked things. Peace is only possible in our hearts because of what Jesus has done for us. Instead of imagining a world without Him, let’s set our hearts and minds on Him.
“[May] the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7).
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