Lennon’s life, death used as springboard to reach the lost

Sunday, December 9, 2012
Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com)

Ray Comfort's new movie "Genius" is about much more than a rock icon's popularity - it's about life and death ... and eternity.

The numbers are staggering.

Thirty-two years after John Lennon's death in 1980, more than 2.3 billion albums have been sold by the Beatles, and they're still going strong. Their seemingly unflagging popularity has even yielded them as number one on iTunes in recent months.

Aware of his young rock band's sensation back in the mid-1960s, Lennon publicly stated: "We're more popular than Jesus." Many believed it was true back then. Some still think it's true today. But when acclaimed evangelist and bestselling author Ray Comfort asked numerous young adults how the Beatles star died 32 years ago, an overwhelming majority had no clue.

More than 2,000 years after Jesus Christ's death, would an overwhelming majority of young adults not know that He was crucified on a cross?

Genius (DVD cover)Regardless of such comparisons that can be made, Comfort's new movie, Genius, launched just in time for the 32ndanniversary of the rock icon's death, is much more than a popularity contest; it's about life and death.

The genius behind 'Genius'

But the motivation behind the film runs even deeper than that.

"In the eyes of a sinful world, no Christian would ever produce a video about John Lennon and call it 'Genius.'" Comfort told OneNewsNow in an exclusive interview. "It's because it is about Lennon and is called 'Genius' that non-Christians are watching it. That's also why secular entertainment sites are embedding the trailer on their sites. That's why when we give these out at universities, secular students will take them. It doesn't look typically Christian."

Comfort concedes that the conventional ways Christians go about reaching a lost world and addressing the problem with sin in ineffective ─ if not counterproductive.

"A typical Christian video on John Lennon would be called something like 'Evil Beatle,' and it would vilify him - for his drug usage, his 'We're more popular than Jesus,' his 'imagine there's no Heaven,' etc," Comfort asserts. "But who is going to watch it? The choir. The unsaved world won't come near it."

The producer of Genius declares that it is his duty to think outside the box for no other reason than his love for a dying and fallen world.

"I don't want to preach to the choir," Comfort continued. "I am horrified that this world is going to a very real place called 'Hell,' and I desperately want to reach them. This is one effective means of doing that."

Understanding why Comfort took the approach he did, OneNewsNow inquired why the native New Zealander chose John Lennon out of all the geniuses out there.

"We used John Lennon as a springboard to reach the lost because many people think he was a musical genius," answered Comfort, the founder and CEO of Living Waters Publications. "You have to have some sort of talent to head up a group that sells two-and-a-half billion records ─ when there are only 7 billion on the planet."

But the kid from Liverpool, England, isn't the only genius you'll see at work in the film.

"When Jesus wanted to talk to the woman at the well about her adultery (John 4), He used water as a springboard," the innovative street preacher pointed out. "He began in the natural realm. Some may call it a 'bait and switch.' I would call it wisdom."

Jesus wasn't the only figurehead Comfort emulated to make his evangelistic effort powerful and successful.

"When Paul preached the Gospel in Athens, he quoted Greek (non-Christian) poets," continued the unabashed ambassador for Christ. "He used them as a springboard before he went to the spiritual. He used discretion. We have done that with one of the world's iconic figures, with Genius."

The powerful medium of music

Biblical scholars agree that God created music as a vehicle to worship Him. As the worship leader in heaven before his fall, Lucifer became perhaps the most powerful and influential angel under God. For the millennia that followed, up through today, music continues to be one of the most effective mediums to convey a message and attract a following.

Comfort, RayWhen asked why music is such a powerful tool of influence in society ─ as seen with Elvis, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, and the cultish following today of such programs as American Idol, The Voice, and X-Factor ─ Comfort had this to say.

"Music makes people feel good, and we all want to feel good," the author of Beatles, God & the Bible candidly replied. "I think it's as simple as that. Some believe that the Beatles made a pact with Satan, and that shot them to instant fame. I tend to think that it was because their early music was good. Really good."

The Beatles' music was so good, untold millions would flock to listen to their music and their every word. No one was more aware of this than Lennon ... to the point that he publicly declared the Beatles' popularity as rivaling Jesus Christ's.

"Christianity will go," Lennon claimed in the midst of his early stardom. "It will vanish and shrink. I needn't prove about that. I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first ─ rock and roll or Christianity."

Lennon used the lyrics of his songs to echo his beliefs, as well. Acknowledging the rock star's fluctuating religious beliefs throughout his music career, Comfort mentioned the spiritual significance of one of Lennon's most popular (and controversial) songs.

"In 'Imagine,' Lennon acknowledged the existence of heaven and hell as real places," Comfort asserts about the song that includes the words: "Imagine there's no heaven." He explains that the acclaimed music artist was asking people to pretend there was no heaven to visualize a point he was making ─ not to question or disapprove of its existence.

Comfort contends that the song's lyrics don't reflect an atheistic worldview as many believe, and Lennon corroborated this when he told a reporter what "Imagine" was all about.

"It is the concept of positive prayer," Lennon said in an interview with Playboy magazine. "If you can imagine a world of peace with no denominations of religion ─ not without religion, but without this 'My-god-is-bigger-than-your-god' thing ─ then it can be true."

The spiritual side of things

And just where was Lennon spiritually before and during his fame, and before his death?

"He was an atheist in 1965, but [he] matured in his thinking over time and came to a belief that God did exist," Comfort explained. "He made a commitment to Christ in the mid '70s, but fell away some time later."

Comfort reports that because Lennon became a Christian out of a desire to have a happier life, his faith was short lived, noting that God does not promise man happiness when he becomes a believer. The candid evangelist emphasizes that becoming a Christian is by no means a ticket to a happy and trouble-free life, as he expresses in his book God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life: The Myth of the Modern Message, the cover of which displays an illustration of the apostle Stephen being stoned to death. He contends that millions quickly fall from their faith because of the empty promises laid out in the popular American "feel-good" gospel ─ never hearing the biblical Gospel that says Christians will have to suffer as Christ and endure many trials and tribulations.

But Lennon's spirituality on that fateful day in December 1980 remains unknown.

"I'm not sure where he was at spiritually at the time of his tragic death," added Comfort, who also said the rock legend showed a reverence to God in his last interview, when he expressed his future was in God's hands and that he hoped he'd have another 40 years to record his music. "God is the only one who truly knows where he was at."

Comfort recounts this interview that took place not long before a fan ─ who had just gotten Lennon's autograph hours prior ─ fatally shot the legend in the back.

"Just before he was murdered, John Lennon told Playboy magazine that he didn't want to die at 40," Comfort shared. "Ironically the famous singer was gunned down at the age of 40 by a man who killed him just because he wanted to become famous."

Man's depravity caught on video

The motive behind Lennon's cold-blooded murder provides a great segue into the major topic explored in "Genius," which is man's sinful nature and his need for a holy Savior.

So, according to Comfort, what is the most powerful lesson to be learned through "Genius?"

"Genius has a chilling message," the evangelist informed. "It shows what people will do when they forget God. It reveals that there are ordinary people out there who would kill you. All they need is the right amount of money and the belief that they won't get caught. It is the ugly fruit of a nation that gives God lip-service. It is no exaggeration to say that God's Name is blasphemed by millions in our country every day. Our job as the Church is to remind them that there is going to be a Day of reckoning, but that God is rich in mercy to all [who] call upon Him."

And what is it about American society that motivates people like Lennon's assassin to kill for money, power or fame?

"While American Christians have been busy with political issues, British redcoats such as Richard Dawkins (and the now deceased Christopher Hitchens) have quietly invaded our country and have shot our youth through the heart," contends Comfort, who wrote God Doesn't Believe in Atheists. "They have convinced millions that they are nothing but primates, and made them into God-haters. When people don't fear God, in their own minds, it gives them the liberty to lie, to steal or even to kill for money."

Comfort contends that even though Lennon was an atheist for some time, he saw evolution as an insult to his intelligence that's been embraced by an unthinking society.

"He rejected evolution because he rightly saw that it has no scientific credibility…that it was an ever-changing line of silly ideas that were based on nothing but blind faith," commented Comfort, who also authored You Can Lead an Atheist to Water, but You Can't Make Him Think. "They are my words. He used the word 'garbage' to describe it."

And Lennon's own words on Charles Darwin's troubled theory?

"I don't believe in the evolution of fish to monkeys to men," Lennon stated. "It's absolutely irrational garbage. They set up these idols and then they knock them down. It keeps all the old professors at the university happy. It gives them something to do. Everything they told me as a kid has already been disproved by the same type of experts who made them up in the first place."

The lure of 'Genius'

Comfort says that engaging America though its fascination with pop culture is an effective means to reach out to the lost and meet them where they are.

"By the grace of God, we want to reverse the trend, and one way to do that is with a movie about John Lennon - what he believed, why he said he really wrote 'Imagine,' why he rejected evolution and another perspective on why he thought that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ," Comfort explained. "Genius is a presentation of the glorious Gospel - which is the power of God to salvation. Politics pulls at the branches. The Gospel takes the axe to the root of the tree."

The evangelist of 40 years was then asked about the spiritual takeaway he wants people to share with others after viewing Genius.

"I want the unsaved to get right with God, and I want the Church to begin to believe that there is a real place called 'Hell,' and remember that according to the Bible, most people are headed there," the Los Angeles-based street preacher expressed. "How many of us would let a child drown if we had the ability to save him? Anyone who would do nothing to save another human being is guilty of a crime called 'depraved indifference.'"

And this is the exact affliction from which Comfort claims most churchgoers suffer.

"According to Bill Bright (in his book, The Coming Revival) only two percent of the contemporary Church in America regularly shares their faith with others," reported Comfort. "That means that 98 percent of professed Christians in our country could be guilty of the crime of depraved indifference. Love could never let a child drown, and love cannot sit on a pew while sinners sink into Hell. Charles Spurgeon said, 'Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that.'"

With regards to Genius, Comfort says the Church's mission to spread the word is quite simple and clear.

"In the past, we have sent missionaries by ship ─ at the risk of their lives and the lives of their families ─ to take the message of everlasting life to the unsaved world," the digitally savvy evangelist recounts. "Nowadays, there is a quicker and safer way to reach billions of dying human beings. The Internet is an amazing evangelistic tool. Never before in the history of the Church has it been so easy to get the Gospel to a perishing world. Our pro-life movie 180 reached millions. Genius (because of its unique content) has much greater potential."

Comfort's final plea to Christians?

"Please, take the link http://geniusthemovie.com/ and email it, post it, Tweet it, put it on Facebook," the bold street preacher implores. "Spread it in any way you can. Use this amazing technology. If you are not sure what to do, go to www.GeniusTheMovie.com and we tell you how to promote this free movie that tells people in a unique and fascinating way, how to find everlasting life."

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