Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Beatles Were Bigger Than Jesus - The Sad Reality

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the breaking up of the Beatles, although the “official” breakup did not happen until 8 months later in 1970. Like them or not, they made a huge impact on the music industry and countless millions of people. Not even being a fan, I could still probably sing along to several of their songs, that after years of listening to the radio just kind of sunk in to my memory.

A popular saying over the years has been “You either love the Beatles, or you love Elvis. You can’t like them both.” I guess I was the Elvis fan growing up in the 70s, so I may have been subconsciously affected by that statement and purposefully avoided anything the Beatles did. But I still can’t ignore the mark the Beatles made on society.

The most notable thing that stands out to me was the John Lennon quote, “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus”. I have even used this as ammunition to persuade people to not listen to the Beatles, kind of a trump card to say, “See, these guys slandered the Name of Jesus, you don’t need any part of them.” That was a mistake on my part. After reflecting after my conversion on music, these guys are and were the same as any other person out there. Any other musical group of marginal success could say the same thing today, and sadly be correct. Actually Lennon had never said this (real story here), but it was actually the sad state then and it is a sad state now.

What was attributed to Lennon was stating an obvious; they were bigger than Jesus in their day. They probably still are. But this was not some kind of braggadocios statement where the Beatles were portraying themselves as gods. The statement was actually a very good assessment of how their followers had MADE the Beatles gods to themselves. Sadly, this is the same state, if not larger today, of the public view of God.

Look at society today, the musicians are treated like royalty and God is mocked. You mention the name Jesus and you are instantly an outcast. I am fine with that, and any true believer should be, we are not of this world (John 15:18-19). But, take any group or person on the charts today, Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga (who is no lady at all), Beyonce’, Taylor Swift, Carey Underwood, Jay-Z and still even the Beatles, and compare their followings to that of God. You will soon see that the public makes idols of these performers. Not necessarily the performers putting themselves into that position, but being placed there by adoring fans. That is where the egos come in and these entertainers then start doing the same thing their fans do, they deify themselves. This is true for most of the professing Christian artists in the mainstream music category. I would even say it is true in the “Contemporary Christian Music” segment as well.

What it boils down to is idolatry. The supposed Lennon quote hit the nail firmly on the head when attributed to him decades ago. People are sinners and they need to fill the void that God put there to long after Him. Not a “God shaped hole”, but a desire to know the God of the universe. Music is but one outlet people use to fill that desire, drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, kids, sports and any other thing put before God is the same as what Lennon supposedly said, “------ is bigger than Jesus”, insert your idol there.

You need to examine yourself and see if you have a right standing with God. Try everything by fire and see what the all-consuming fire of God burns before His throne. God demands your full love and attention; He will not compete with your idols. I truly urge you to examine your life and see what excites you. Does the thrill of an action movie bring more joy than the thrill of witnessing to a lost person? Does the sounds of any song on the radio cause you to start singing along while you have a hard time remembering the words to “And Can It Be” during Sunday morning services? Does the sight of your spouse cause your heart to skip a beat, but the thought of God just make you want to turn the lights out to try and hide from Him? If you answered yes to any of those, then you have some idols. You have filled your heart with desires that God requires of you. But the good news is that God wants you to realize you have these idols and He wants you to give them up willingly. He will even help you with this; He will give you the desires of your heart if you just ask.

I will definitely not be using the supposed John Lennon quote to deter anyone from listening to the Beatles again. There are many more reasons to not listen to the Beatles instead of me misquoting yet again. God has graced me enough to know that anything can be an idol; anything can be taken and made to look like a golden calf in the sight of a jealous God. I ask God daily to take my idols and to turn my gaze upon Him, to look to Him for everything, to give me the thoughts of thankfulness for His grace to me in what He has gifted to me, a beautiful wife that reflects His love for me, kids that teach me how He loves me and wants me to be as forgiving as He is, people at work that do not know Him that give me opportunity to brag on what He has done for me, brothers and sisters that He has allowed me to become close to that reach out to me with His hands, music that radiates His goodness, food that shows that He is the bread of life and I need to feed on His Word as my body needs to feed on that food. I am thankful that God chose me, the Master and Creator who spoke everything into existence loves me and desires to show me just how much He does love me.


Missy said...'s_comment_about_Jesus_that_caused_such_an_uproar

He did say this; the author you linked is incorrect. I always felt it was taken a bit out of context; he wasn't really saying the Beatles should be more popular than Jesus, just that they were. Then he sort of apologized for saying it, and never denied having said it. Having said that, I really dislike the Beatles and everything their music stands for. My half-hearted defense of Lennon's statement doesn't mean I don't think he was practically demonic.

Forgive me, I wanted to set the record straight; I haven't finished reading your post yet!

Missy said...

Now that I have read it, it's a very good commentary on our idolatrous behavior. Or, should I say, "behaviour," in keeping with the Beatles theme.

Jeff said...

I had always heard that Lennon said it in the context that the Beatles were bger than Jesus as a bragging statement. After looking into it I saw where it had been taken out of context.

I didn't go into the more "demonic" things you mentioned Missy, there are plenty for sure.

Here is a video of the "apology"