"He got toe jam football He got monkey finger / He got walrus gumboot He one spinal cracker He got feet down below his knee Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease."
WARREN – These words from the verses of one of the Beatles' biggest hits: Come Together.
You can probably hum the chorus in your head as you read this:
Come Together...Right Now...Over Me.
That catchy chorus, bolstered by Paul McCartney's chunky bass line, appears to be a rallying cry for unity in a time of great upheaval and disunity.
But John Lennon himself called the song’s meaning, “gobbledygook.”
The lyrics are a hodgepodge of veiled drug references from the late 60s, plus a whole lot of pure meaninglessness. Yet, on one level, I think Lennon was getting at something that all humans long for: unity, fellowship; koinonia, to use the biblical word (Acts 2:42).
We all want to belong. We all desire a sense of togetherness—from the toddler who misses her mommy to the radicalized loner who joins a white supremacist hate-group. But here’s my point: it’s hard to come together over pure “gobbledygook.”
But we’re living in a society that celebrates gobbledygook. Objective truth has fallen on hard times. Personal preferences and feelings rule the day. Even basic questions like, “What is a man?” or “What is a woman?” are up for debate now, and that debate is deemed as progress.
In fact, one of the great hindrances to this kind of “progress” for many modern people are groups (like Christians) who believe that there are absolute truths that are absolutely binding on everyone.
So, it has become trendy for influential “Christians” to publicly deconstruct their tired, old religious heritages that kept them “shackled” to an ancient book, written by a bunch of “patriarchal” men. Now that their modern eyes have been enlightened, people are finally finding the “courage” to follow their hearts and be true to themselves. Princess Elsa would be proud.
But this “new” reality in which we’re living is—actually—not very new at all. In fact, a very old book in the Old Testament provides a window into what happens when we favor self-rule rather than submission to God. That book is called Judges. Spoiler alert: after pages of horrific atrocities and utter disappointments, the book ends with this:
“In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” (Judges 21:25).
It turns out that following your heart and being true to yourself is disappointing at best and dehumanizing at worst. In a society where everything is equally valid, nothing is valid. If everything matters, then nothing matters. If the “self” determines what is true, then there’s nothing ultimately true and “anything goes.” Who's to say otherwise?
Good luck finding productive unity in a society like that. You might as well try to get people to come together over “toe jam football” or “walrus gumboot,” whatever that is.
This is where the radical beauty of Christianity shines brightly. As a lover of God’s Word, I’m freed from the bondage to self and secular society. I’m freed from my fickle inconsistencies. I’m able to look to an authority that’s “outside of myself” and navigate a confusing world.
Judges ends with a nation in chaos without a king. An Israelite king was supposed to write a copy of God’s law, read it regularly, learn to fear God, and obey him (Deuteronomy 17:18-20). A king was supposed to get his people to “come together” --not over gobbledygook, but over God’s laws.
May God’s people have the courage to cut through the gobbledygook with a steadfast call to men, women, and children to come together—right now—over God’s words.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clayton Knight is the senior pastor at Warren Woods Baptist Church in Warren, Michigan. He is married to his best friend, Sarah, and they have a daughter named Aubrey.