The Search for True Peace:
John Lennon, Eminem, and the apostle John's diverse visions of peace.
John Lennon had a vision for
“Imagine there’s no heaven,
It’s easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky,
Imagine all the people
Living for today…
Imagine there’s no
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too . . .
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.” (John Lennon, "Imagine")
As part of the peace
movement of the 1960s and 70s, John Lennon imagined a world at
peace—a unified world in which everyone is just living for today. To that end,
he envisioned a world freed from belief in God and the afterlife and a world in
which sovereign nations would be replaced by a global, one-world government.
John Lennon’s dream still
resonates with millions of Americans. But have the last two decades of
secularism (with its rejection of God and the Bible) and globalism brought us
any closer to the realization of Lennon’s dream?
Increasingly, people are
“living for today.” We have bigger homes, more shopping malls, more TV
channels, more technological and medical innovations than ever before. But have
we found peace?
Since the 1960s and 70s our
nation has produced a culture of broken families; widespread depression, drug abuse,
obesity and eating disorders, sexually-transmitted diseases; rampant violent
crimes; metal detectors, school and workplace shootings, Amber Alerts, gated
communities, gang warfare. Soldiers are dying daily, terrorist attacks continue
to threaten the stability and safety of nations, and our nation’s middle
class is rapidly vanishing.
For millions of young
Americans today, this world seems rather hopeless. People may try to suppress
the truth, but deep down inside they sense the meaninglessness and the
hopelessness of life. For many Americans, their war is raging within their own
families; their war is even raging within themselves.
Lennon’s vision for peace was to
“live for the moment”; rapper Eminem’s vision is to “Sing for the
“These ideas are
nightmares for white parents
Whose worst fear is a child with dyed hair and who likes earrings
Like whatever they say has no bearing
It's so scary in a house that allows no swearing
To see him walkin' around with his headphones blaring
Alone in his own zone, so cold and he don't care
He's a problem child, what bothers him all comes out
When he talks about his [xx] dad walkin' out
'Cuz he hates him so bad that he blocks him out
But if he ever saw him again, he'd probly knock him out . . .
He sags his pants, dew-rags and a stockin' cap
His stepfather hit him so he socked him back
And broke his nose, this house is a broken home
There's no control, he just lets his emotions go- . . .
So they sit and they cry at night, wishin they die.
with me, sing for the year
Sing for the laughter, sing for the tear
Sing it with me, just for today
Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take it away.”
Hopeless, all many can do is sing
for the moment, party, get wasted, and seek constant pleasure and entertainment,
hoping to deaden the painful reality of their miserable, meaningless existence.
the Bible, there are over 350 explicit references to “peace.” Limiting our
consideration to the 88 references to peace found in the New Testament, we learn
The unbelieving world
possesses a false sense of security, a false peace (1 Thess. 5:3). But there
is a God, who is “the God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; cf. 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor.
13:11; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:16; Heb. 13:20). Christ Jesus is
“our peace,” the supreme “peacemaker”; He “came and preached peace” (Eph.
2:14-15, 17; cf. Col. 1:20). Jesus is “the way of peace" (Luke 1:79; cf. John
14:6; Rom. 3:17). He brings peace to those who follow Him (John 14:27; 16:33).
Peter preached a Gospel of “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). The
Gospel is, in fact, “the gospel of peace” (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15). Paul’s
epistles offer a blessing of grace, mercy, and “peace” to true Christian
believers—in 13 different books (cf. Rom. 1:7; 15:13; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2;
Gal. 1:3; 6:16; Eph. 1:2; 6:23; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:2;
3:16; 1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:4; Philemon 1:3), to “everyone who works
what is good” (Rom. 2:10), for those who are “spiritually minded” (Rom. 8:6).
So also do Peter’s letters (1 Pet. 1:2; 5:14; 2 Pet. 1:2). And the apostle John
and Jude teach the same truth in 2 John 1:3, 3 John 1:14, Jude 1:2, and Rev.
Believers, having been justified by faith, have
peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). All true
Christians have “peace,” for it is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; cf. Jas.
3:18); it guards our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:7; cf. Col. 3:15). Christians are to be “peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9;
Jas. 3:18), to “live in peace” (2 Cor. 13:11; cf. Eph. 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:13), and
diligently to pursue “peace” (Rom. 14:19; cf. 1 Cor. 7:15; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb.
12:14; 1 Pet. 3:11; 2 Pet. 3:14).
Furthermore, the city Salem or Jerusalem means
“peace” (Heb. 7:2). Melchizedek, the priest-king of Salem, was the “king of
peace” (Heb. 7:2). Jesus, as our great High Priest, according to the order of
Melchizedek, is the King of Peace, the Prince of Peace, as prophesied by the
prophet Isaiah, who said: “For
unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon
His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Paul says that the kingdom
of God is “peace” (Rom. 14:17). And another name for the kingdom of God is the
Church, which is the New Jerusalem. The apostle John, in his inspired vision
recorded in the book of Revelation, sees “the New Jerusalem,” THE CHURCH, and
her Christ (her Messiah), as the only true peace that exists for a world
the Old Testament, the prophets looked forward to a day in the future, when a
new Jerusalem would arise, a city of peace. We
read in Zechariah 8:1-8: Again the word of the LORD of
hosts came, saying, "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'I am zealous
for Zion with great zeal; With great fervor I am zealous for her.' "Thus says
the LORD: 'I will return to Zion, And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem
shall be called the City of Truth, The Mountain of the LORD of hosts, The Holy
Mountain.' "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Old men and old women shall again
sit In the streets of Jerusalem, Each one with his staff in his hand Because of
great age. The streets of the city Shall be full of boys and girls Playing in
its streets.' "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'If it is marvelous in the eyes
of the remnant of this people in these days, Will it also be marvelous in My
eyes?' Says the LORD of hosts. "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Behold, I will
save My people from the land of the east And from the land of the west; I
will bring them back, And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people And I will be their God, In truth and righteousness.'
The prophets of the Old
Testament lamented the lying, the injustice, and the unrighteousness so
prevalent in their day. But they had hope, for they saw a day coming in which
true peace would prevail.
In Revelation, chapter
21, the apostle John has a vision of
the New Jerusalem, which is, in fact,
the bride of Christ.
I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev. 21:2).
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven
bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying,
"Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in
the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy
Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.” (Rev.
Elsewhere in Scripture, the New Jerusalem
(Rev. 3:12; 21:2) is referred to as God’s “holy mountain” (Isa.
56:7), Mount Zion (Ps. 2:6; 3:4; Joel 3:17; Zech. 8:3; Heb. 12:22);
God’s house (Isa. 2:3; Mic. 4:2); God’s temple (Ezek. 43:12; Rev.
21:3); God’s city (Ps. 48:1; Heb. 12:22), the holy city (Isa.
66:20; Rev. 21:2, 10), the City of Truth (Zech. 8:3), the Jerusalem
above (Gal. 4:26), and the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22). Paul says that “she is our mother” (Gal.
4:26). As our spiritual mother, she raises us from birth (if we have been
born again), she feeds us, nurtures us, teaches us, loves us, and comforts us. And John says that the New Jerusalem is the
Church, the bride of Christ (Rev. 21:9), which means that if you are
a Christian, you are a citizen of the New Jerusalem.
Is this fact of our
heavenly citizenship a call to retreat from society? By no means. Jesus says we are to be
in the world. We were created in Christ
Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10). That is our purpose in life—to do good
works. Eph. 2:8-10 says: “For by
grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is
the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.”
That’s why Christians were at the forefront of
the establishment of hospitals, schools, universities, and free societies; of
advancements in science, human rights, the abolition of slavery, feeding the
poor, and many other noble causes that have been of great benefit to humanity.
Jesus says that the
greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul,
mind, and strength. So Christians are concerned about worship, glorifying God
as we worship Him in spirit and truth, as He has commanded, and growing in our walk with Christ as we study and meditate upon His
Word. We desire to become more and more like Jesus and to live as He lived. We
desire to use our gifts to the glory of God and to edify (build up) and
encourage one another.
Jesus says that the second
greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” And so Christian
churches are to be communities of hope and peace, showing love to both those
inside our churches and also to those outside.
Do you ever think about eternity? What happens one moment after you
die? If you were minutes away from death, what would seem most important to
you? Would you regret how you spent your life? In the final analysis, what is
really important? Why are you here? Does your life have any real purpose or
Revelation 21:1 says that “the first earth had passed away.” This planet, which
we now inhabit, is temporary. The apostle Peter says that the present heavens
and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and
destruction of ungodly men (2 Pet. 3:7, NAS). On that day, “the heavens will be
dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat” (2 Pet.
Elsewhere, the Scriptures teach that our life is a mere “vapor that appears for
a little time and then vanishes away.” Therefore, our primary
mission in life should not be to labor for the things which are seen (i.e.,
material things and the accumulation of more and more stuff), but rather for the
things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary,
but the things which are not seen are eternal. (Jas. 4:14; 2 Cor. 4:18)
Revelation 21:8, Jesus warns that, ". . . the cowardly, unbelieving,
abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all
liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone,
which is the second death."
The Bible teaches that one sin, one transgression, one lie, one sinful thought,
is all it takes to deserve eternal punishment. Yet, because
God is a God who is rich in mercy and love and grace, He sent
His one and only Son to earth, delivered Him to a cruel death on a Roman
cross, but raised Him from the dead on the third day, so that whoever
believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. That is GOOD NEWS!
Friend, that is great news!
matter what sins you may have committed in your life, God stands ready and
willing to forgive you, if you will come to Him with a humble and sincere desire
to follow Him completely from this day forward.
Christ promises that He will “give of the fountain of the water of life freely
to him who thirsts” (Rev. 21:6). Are
you thirsty? Then, come and drink of the water of life! Jesus
says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and
lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt. 11:30).
If you do not know Christ,
then come drink of the water of life today. Repent of your sins, confess them
to Christ, and ask Him to cleanse you and make you a new person. Believe on the
Lord Jesus Christ, trust in Him as Your Savior, and follow Him as your Lord.
Do you want peace?
– peace in your life, peace in your
family, peace in your relationships, peace in the world? True peace can only be
found through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Jesus promises true peace
to all those who follow Him: "Peace I
leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
John Lennon never found
utopia on earth. And sadly I doubt that Mr. Marshall Mathers (a.k.a. Eminem) has found genuine peace either. But there is a heavenly
place, the city that the apostle John sees in his vision—New Jerusalem. By
faith in Jesus Christ, Christians have the assurance of eternal life and eternal
residence in that heavenly Jerusalem, a city free from the curse of sin, a city
in which true peace will reign forevermore. “And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There
shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
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Bible Ministries. All rights reserved.