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I mentioned in my last post some observations about John Lennon’s song, Imagine. In the first verse he imagines that the world would be far better off if the concepts of heaven and hell didn’t exist. No heaven, no hell. Now he adds

Imagine there are no countries, nothing to kill or die for and no religion, too.

Heaven….Hell….Religion. There would be, no doubt, a very interesting history associated with those words in John Lennon’s life. The song goes on to say,

Imagine no possessions…..no need for greed or hunger (if we could just develop a brotherhood of man)

But what really hooked into me was the very first line “Imagine there’s no heaven”. That suggestion stirred an immediate, negative, spontaneous and powerful response within me. At the time of writing the very recent sickness and death of my wife makes the reality of heaven that much more precious now. Imagine there’s no heaven. NO!! I will not allow the reality of heaven to be questioned.

During almost 40 years of pastoral ministry I have never entertained any question about the existence or otherwise heaven. So why this reaction? Why did I find myself imagining what it would be like if there was no heaven?

Self-diagnosis is rarely infallible, if ever. Acknowledging that, I believe my reaction could be summed up thus: “I have lost my wife once through death. I don’t want to lose her again because there is no heaven!” I suspect that the rawness of my grief also played a part in that out-of-character response.

If there is no heaven, then we are talking about oblivion. We are talking about annihilation; that at the point of death when the vital bodily functions cease, the immaterial dimension of a person (i.e. the personality and the non-material qualities of being…..what? Dissolve? Vanish? Doesn’t everything within you want to say, “That’s crazy!” It’s that immaterial dimension that is the real person. The body is little more than a container that is the accommodation for the spirit or soul of a man or woman during the time of their life here on planet earth.

A relatively few people (very few, I suspect) can integrate into their thinking the conclusion that oblivion, annihilation, nothingness awaits us all. I’m not one of them! John Lennon may have been one of them, but I’m not.

The vast majority have an instinctive, powerful belief that there is some kind of life beyond the grave. They may not want to believe that fact but they do. I can’t prove this but I am not aware of any people group or community in any era of the history of this world that has been atheistic to the point of denying some kind of life beyond death.

Somehow, in the creation of the human race, there was built into the spiritual DNA of humanity a conviction that there is life after death.

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