Printer Friendly Version

 

The Search for True Peace:
John Lennon, Eminem, and the apostle John's diverse visions of peace.

John Lennon had a vision for peace: 

“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 countries
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 Moment.”

“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.

Sing 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.”
 (Eminem)

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. 

In our day, as in that of the prophet Jeremiah, there are many who claim to offer peace.  But, as Jeremiah lamented: “They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, saying, “peace, peace,” but there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14, NAS). 

But dear friend all is not hopeless.  I testify to you that there is true HOPE and PEACE.  Because there is a God of Hope and a God of Peace, who alone can give you peace and purpose for living. 

In 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 that: 

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. 1:4.  

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 at war. 

In 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.  “Then 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. 21:9-11)

The prophet Isaiah had prophesied that Israel’s walls would be called “salvation” and her gates “praise” (60:18).  In John’s vision in Revelation 21, he sees “a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel,” and “the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:12, 14, NKJ). 

What does this mean?  It means that New Jerusalem is inhabited by all those believing Jews and Gentiles from throughout the ages who are “fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).  Paul calls this “the mystery” of the Gospel.  We are living stones, a spiritual house built “on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).  The New Jerusalem is the city to which father Abraham looked—“the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). 

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.

Paul refers to the Church as “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16).  All the promises regarding Jerusalem—the city of David—find their fulfillment in the New Jerusalem—the city of the Son of David, which is the true city of peace ruled by the Prince of Peace, King Jesus.

The Scriptures teach that if you have placed your faith in Jesus, then the Holy Spirit dwells in you.  By faith, you are even now a citizen of the New Jerusalem.  You are “fellow citizens” with the saints (Eph. 2:19) and have been adopted into God’s family, “the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).  You dwell “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).  Or, as Zechariah put it, “the city of truth.”  And you are an heir to an eternal inheritance—the New Jerusalem. 

The Bible teaches that Christians are strangers (or “pilgrims”) in this world:  Hebrews 13:14 says, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”  Paul adds, “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).  Spiritually, God has already “seated us with Christ in the heavenly places” (Eph. 2:6).  We live in the world, but we are not of the world.  At present, we are in exile from our homeland.  Physically, we are citizens of the United States of America and other nations throughout the world.  We must obey our nation’s laws and seek to further its welfare.  But, spiritually, we are not a citizen of this world.  By faith, we are citizens of a spiritual kingdom, a heavenly city called New Jerusalem.  In other words, we have dual citizenship.  Our spiritual citizenship resides up above; by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ and the indwelling presence of His Holy Spirit in us, we are citizens of the New Jerusalem. And, some day in the future, we will be citizens of the New Jerusalem, both in spirit AND in body, when Christ returns and the dead are raised physically. 

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 significance?   

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. 3:12).

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)

In 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!  No 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). 


Copyright © 2009  Wabash Bible Ministries.  All rights reserved.