Worship Music

Flagrant Regard Launches Thought-Provoking New Song ‘Reimagine’

Reimagine’ Now Available On iTunes

“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”
(from John Lennon’s 1971 song, ‘Imagine’)

For years, John Lennon’s song Imagine has always been one of those songs that leaves me feeling unsettled whenever I hear it. There’s certainly no doubt that Imagine is melodically beautiful, artfully recorded and musically uplifting.  Lennon’s voice is in its prime and the piece is sung with sensitivity and raw emotion. The words represent John’s (and Yoko’s) heartfelt desire to see a better world come about through unifying peace. (A poem by Yoko Ono initially inspired John’s lyrics for the 1971 recording.)

Imagine is over 40 years old now and we still hear it being ‘covered’ or played at memorials and peace rallies across the globe.  It’s also somewhat odd that though Lennon recommended that we “imagine there’s no countries”, the song received renewed word-wide attention at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics – a celebration that inherently lauds national pride and diversity in the wake of intense competition.

That said, as a follower of Christ, I feel compelled to take issue with the overarching message of the song. A good portion of the lyrics of Imagine are emblematic of the atheistic or humanistic idea of what it would take to bring true peace to mankind. According to Lennon, peace can come at a price that includes, among other things, that of forsaking belief in God, belief in an afterlife, and even the passion to live or die for something truly important.

Blogger Paul Wilkinson pointed me to an article in Christianity Today authored by David Neff that noted the following:

“… a friend reminded me of comedian Steve Martin’s comic tune, “Atheists Don’t Have No Songs.” At the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Martin waved a single sheet of paper and told the audience, “This is the entire atheist hymnal, right here.” … “Martin is clever, but wrong. John Lennon wrote just such a tune in 1971. Lennon’s tune for “Imagine” is indeed inspiring. But Lennon’s text posits an existence with “nothing to live or die for.” With no countries, no possessions, no heaven or hell, no religion, Lennon promised, the world would live as one. Not likely. Perhaps Martin was right to ignore the song.”

Our pastor recently re-reviewed the lyrics of Imagine and made an interesting observation: “If you take out the first ‘verse’ of his song, he [Lennon] is actually describing heaven. The problem is that by ignoring the call of heaven (God’s Kingdom) and living for today, Heaven is only a dream never realized. The bitter irony of the song is that the call/desire of the first verse completely removes the possibility of experiencing the rest of the song’s desire.”

When people, beliefs aside, join their hands and light a myriad of candles while singing Imagine reverently (or at the top of their lungs) at some important gathering, it’s certainly not a bad thing. But there is a more excellent way.

God challenges us to ‘reimagine’ what the world and what the future is to be through the message of hope revealed to us through Jesus and his disciples. Some serious time spent reading the New Testament reveals that there is a God who is there and cares so deeply for us that He doesn’t want us to settle for the kind of peace that fades, but wants us to know a peace that is real, lasting and available to anyone by way of a dynamic relationship He is absolutely prepared to begin in each one of us. But take note, it will cost you – your preconceived notions about God, your level of comfort, your media-influenced beliefs or life choices, and possibly many other things along the way. But it will be well worth it in the long run.

Flagrant Regard, by way of this song, challenges you to reimagine peace, reimagine hope and reimagine what it means to truly experience life to the fullest.

It is our sincere hope that followers of Christ everywhere share this song whenever and wherever they can in order to open up discussion about or spark interest in the message of the cross.

In Him Who is Our Peace,

Flagrant Regard

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Categories: Christian Contemporary Music, Christianity, Creative Writing, Religion, Spiritual, Theology, Worship Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Mathterlife Equations


Ever wondered if all the world’s religions or faith-groups (and what they believe regarding the afterlife) could be broken down into simple mathematical formulas?

Well, here’s an attempt at what that might look like.

VALUES

M = Mankind
W = Works (usually referent to goodness via thoughts, words and deeds)
D = Death (the constant)
U = Uncertainty (unknown or unknowable outcome)
B = Belief (faith in an unseen force or being)
AE = Ambiguous Eternity (includes reincarnation belief systems)
S = Substitutionary Death (of Jesus Christ)
R = Relationship (faith based communion/prayerful intimacy with God)
GE = Guaranteed Eternity


NON-FAITH BASED EQUATIONS


1. Atheists

M + W = D + Ø

2. Agnostics

M + W = D + U

The Algebraic Take
In case of the agnostic, they believe M or W (or both) have a value higher than do atheists, in order for U > Ø. However, since M + W are in fact the same quantities then D + U = D, leading to U = Ø at the very least.

The Theological Take
Agnostics and Atheists have to be the saddest lot, in that their non-belief consigns them to a life with temporary significance. Meaning and purpose is measured (or experienced) via ephemeral/fleeting notions of what is good or bad given a particular moment in time. There is no grounded universal with respect to ethics or morality. No foundation of belief regarding the spiritual exists. The afterlife, if there is one, is wholly unknowable.


FAITH BASED EQUATIONS


3. Nontheistic or Polytheistic Religions

M + B + W = D + AE

The Algebraic Take
D + AE > D only if B > Ø. If belief with no quantifier (something definitive to believe in) is the same as no belief at all, then B = Ø and again D + AE = D, leading to U = Ø at the very least.

The Theological Take
In nontheistic faiths such as Buddhism, some souls might enter the ‘hungry ghost realm’ (if they belonged to evil people) or will reincarnate into another person until all bad karma has been dealt with and one achieves ‘Nirvana’, which is essentially a successful transition to blissful ignorance!

In the polytheistic religion of Hinduism or Jainism, karma is directly linked to your past deeds and/or misdeeds. Your bad debts are paid off in transiting from life to life and you can never hope to know what type of existence will befall you upon your ‘next go around’. (One of the reasons the poorer classes (aka. Talits) of India are not well regarded or assisted by many of the well-to-do in society is due to the traditional and pervasive belief that the poor are where they are because karma is being meted out to them by way of their suffering!)


4. Spiritualist, Mystical or ‘Fringe’ Belief Systems

(M + B) | (M + W) = D + AE

Note: “|= logical or

The Algebraic Take
If (M + B) > (M + W) in conceptual value, we have no contradiction if from the previous case B = Ø (non quantified), and again neither can be > D, and so again, here B and W can be used interchangeably, and in the end, D + AE = D, and so again AE = Ø.

The Theological Take
Wiccans, serious practitioners of eastern meditation, New Age types or spiritualists all have one thing in common: a desire to be non-conformist in their approach to faith or religious practices. In other words, if a belief concept is considered ‘outside the box’ or non-traditional, it’s a candidate for interest. Multiple elements borrowed from Christianity, eastern mysticism, witchcraft, Buddhism, Jainism and even voodoo form a hodgepodge of beliefs and/or practices. Achieving harmony with self, nature and others is the primary focus while thoughts of the afterlife are of secondary concern; often a mish-mash of various ideas with no root concepts. The need to address one’s own moral evil or sinfulness and how it relates to ‘the next world’ is usually regarded as ‘old school’ and even offensive, while goodness is whatever one deems it to be. What unifies people in this belief category is their having no unified idea of what God or the afterlife truly entails.


5. Monotheistic Abrahamic Religions and/or Christian Cults

M + B + W = D + AE

The Algebraic Take
Same as case 3.  D + AE = D, AE = Ø.

The Theological Take
Religions such as Judaism, Islam and even Mormonism have a munificence of customs and beliefs based on holy books or sacred scriptures. Beliefs and customs vary somewhat, but what they ALL have in common is an understanding that the rights and wrongs committed in this life are what impact one’s ultimate destination; that being heaven or hell and particular levels therein.

Doing one’s best, along with a general or committed belief in God should or could result in a good outcome, but there is still no guarantee! (Incidentally, women do not share celestial equality with men in Islam and Mormonism.)


6. Christianity’s Equation

S + M + B + R = D – D + GE

The Algebraic Take
Here belief is quantified by S and R, giving the all-important GE quantity, and interestingly, the constant D is cancelled out on the right side of the equation thanks to the substitutionary death S = -D on the left side.

The Theological Take
Christianity is the ONLY FAITH system where the belief in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ supersedes man’s moral uprightness. Classical first-century Christianity contends that mankind cannot (nor will ever be able to) understand or attain a level of goodness that God would be impressed by or satisfied with. It further asserts that even the negative, dark thoughts of the mind count as spots on our souls. In order for God to receive us into his presence fully and completely (in this life AND the next), we have to be perfect. Realistically, this is quite impossible. To become perfect enough for God, a person must accept that they are morally and ethically a shifty, inept being who can never attain a full level of goodness that meets God’s requirements in areas of purity, holiness and right-standing character and that the ONLY solution to this dilemma is to be made perfect! Christ, who while on earth was perfect in every way, was indeed a great teacher and an incredible man but Christians believe he was far more than that. They believe that God, through Christ, revealed his intense love for us by sacrificing His very self in death in order to make us perfect and bridge the barrier that exists between a holy God and not-very-holy humanity. A further step was taken by this same God – to provide evidence of His power and ability – when He caused Jesus’ body to rise up and out of death’s grip within three days of His brutal execution. This miraculous event, witnessed by several hundred people, validated to these people (and those who would believe their testimony) that Jesus was exactly who he claimed to be and that God’s seal of approval rests with Him and Him alone. (No other religious leader has ever left an empty tomb behind them.) When this is believed in wholeheartedly and whole-mindedly by anyone and a true one-to-one relationship between them and God ensues as a result, God determines them ‘fully qualified’ for entrance into a peaceful and purposeful eternity.

One may notice that the ‘W‘ (works) variable is missing from Christian math equation. The reason? A Christian’s relationship with God (as brought about through Christ’s saving work) is the only means by which we will ever be able to rest, let alone stand, in the presence of the Almighty. A turning away from things that are considered spiritually or morally unhealthy evidences true Christian belief and ‘good works’ will be the natural outworking that springs from the new life and relationship God begins in a real believer. Just as it is believed that in the next life evildoers will receive punishment that befits their crimes, Christians, upon entering their eternity with God, understand that they will receive some measure of reward for the good works that they have done while in their earthly bodies. (After opening and entering through the door of faith, it is very important to note that the Christian no longer maintains that any {or any amount} of their good deeds are what qualify them for an eternity with God and often reflects upon this, remembering that anything to the contrary strips away the true meaning and ultimate purpose of Christ’s death on the cross.)

My attempt to explain faith concepts using mathematical equations is certainly a feeble one, but fortunately God is not feeble. He is powerful enough to whisper into the deafest ear, “I am here – know my Son, know Me, know my intense love for you and believe”. Today, this may be you.

I pray anyone reading this will hear the call of the Master and come to know the truth that indeed sets them free.

© Flagrant Regard, 2012., with algebraic corrections and commentary provided by Boris D.


For further evidence of the above, please download a free copy of the bible (and a variety of helpful commentaries) from www.e-sword.net and review for yourselves, in context, the following verses.

Letter to the Romans 5:6-11
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
New American Standard Translation

Letter to the Hebrews 12:22-24
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
New International Version

Letter to the Philippians 3:7-14
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
New Living Translation

Letter to the Hebrews 10:1-25
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer. You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God—as is written about me in the Scriptures.'”

First, Christ said,

“You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.”

He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect. For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. 14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,

“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he says,

“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”

And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
New Living Translation

Categories: Apologetics, Bible Knowledge, Christianity, Creative Writing, Religion, Theology, Worship Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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