John Lennon’s quote that “we are more popular than Jesus” sparked controversy and protest once it reached the United States. That statement, part of a much larger discourse, was taken terribly out of context. Here’s what Lennon really said:
Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I’ll be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.
Lennon was commenting on the decline of Christianity in England (and all of Europe for that matter) and over there no one even got upset. In it’s context, what Lennon was saying was true.
But look at what he says about Jesus and his followers. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. That is certainly true. For John Lennon, this is what turned him off to Christianity. This should be what turns people onto Christianity. Jesus’s followers then, as now, are thick and ordinary. God calls people that are naturally sinful, fallen, broken, etc. into a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Perfection is not required; we are all a little messed up, some more than others, and it’s those kind of people that Jesus is looking for.
We (Christians) are the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians (12:12-27) Paul describes how a single body has many different parts that work together. We each have ears, eyes, a nose and so forth and each of those parts perform a necessary function. So it is Paul says with Christ. We are each individual members of the body, and it takes all kinds. Look at Jesus’s followers. The disciples were made up of common laborers (fishermen) but there was also Matthew the tax collector. Jesus had many followers besides the twelve he called Apostles. Luke was a physician, and the later Apostle Paul was both a Pharisee and a Roman citizen. We all bring different skill sets to the table, and the church needs them all. Paul says that some preach, others teach, some work miracles, but there is one Christ, one Spirit and one baptism that we are all baptized with.
Christian believers need to be reminded that we are “thick and ordinary.” We did not and cannot earn our salvation. It is an act of God’s grace. That is the good news we should be compelled to share with the world. Non-Christians need to know that Christians are not perfect, and do not (or should not) present themselves as such. Jesus was all right, but he is the only one who has ever been all right on his own. The rest of us need God’s grace and mercy, and it is offered freely. The very thing that turned Lennon away from Christianity should be it’s greatest appeal. What we can’t do Jesus has already done.