John 7 with a crown of thorns resting on the Bible

Only God Knows

A while back I had another dream that I feel is something I should share, especially considering the times. While it was much shorter than the others, it seemed just as significant. Only God knows us, after all.

In today’s climate, people are split. There are those who truly are good people. People who are content. Those who, although they might not have everything, have enough, and are grateful. Occasionally, they might hit some trouble and act out, but that isn’t the norm. These people are often grouped in with the troublemakers, because the world only remembers when they hit a rough spot, but they are blessings to the world.

Another group of people try to put on a good show, dressing their best wherever they go, putting on a happy face, and acting like their life is perfect. They outwardly put on a good show. Maybe they even volunteer in their community or donate to different causes quite a bit. Their lives are often held up as examples of how to be a good person, but if you look hard enough you can see the cracks in the veneer. They aren’t happy. Their outward appearance will quickly fade away in difficult situations, showing who they really are. Their entire existence revolves around selfishness. “I deserve this.” “I worked for this.” “You cannot stop me.” In reality, they are ‘perfect’ humanists.

Other people don’t care what the world thinks of them, and every aspect of their life is disheveled. They are mean spirited, rough around the edges, selfish, and cruel. Worst of all, the world knows it and they don’t care.

That last group of people might be the worst from a human perspective, but we only see the outside. If we could see every moment and thought of every person written on our sleeves, I am betting that second group would be considered the worst of humanity. Only God knows, though.


“The world can see my Godliness”

When this dream started, I was attending Sunday service at the same church that I grew up in. I had just walked through the outside doors and into the lobby outside the sanctuary. There were a ton of people talking, walking around, having a good time. They were all dressed in their best. Each one of them was engaged in deep conversation with other congregants about God, the Bible, their lives, football, and anything else I could think of. Even the pastoral team and staff were there. Everybody was happy. Content. Carefree.

Obliviously Lost

When the bells sounded for the service to begin, people started to move to the sanctuary doors. I walked in and sat down towards the back of the sanctuary on the far side from the doors. Shortly after, the doors closed and the service began. The backup pastor was preaching during this dream, and they opened with a prayer. When the prayer was concluded, I opened my eyes and looked around.

The pews were mostly empty.

I could still see a ton of people in the lobby. I was shocked. Most of the people in the lobby began to come in when the bells rang, but turned around at the doors. They had gone back to what they were doing, oblivious and unaware of what was going on behind the doors.

Convicted

The pastor began to give the message.

Empty Pews in Church - B&W
Image from Gallup

He spoke on how most of the 2.5b people around the world who claim Christianity don’t actually live the Christian lifestyle. The pastor talked about Christians who don’t truly believe what the Bible says, that God is who He says He is, or that Jesus really came to Earth, died, and resurrected.

He pointed to Christians who come to church on Sunday’s dressed in their best, putting on a good show, who leave the building and head out to the world, acting exactly like the world. Christians who don’t show their faith during the rest of the week, use dirty language, and those who enjoy committing any one of the acts forbidden in the Bible. Only God knows our hearts and who we truly are.

He pointed to people who profess the name of Jesus, but don’t actually know him, regardless of their own belief that they do. The pastor closed after talking about people who insist that since they go to church and are a good person, they will make it into heaven, even though they don’t truly believe. The Bible is clear that they won’t.

Intense Sadness

As I listened, I was intensely sad because of the people outside the door. I could still see them, fellowshipping with each other, oblivious that the service had started without them. They came to church. They were the same people I saw week after week, but they never came in to hear the message.

Those people didn’t receive the pastor’s words, nonetheless the Bible’s. They stayed outside of the sanctuary in a perpetually blissful state of mind.

While that group fellowshipped with the rest of those outside, dressed in their Sunday best, they thought they were doing alright. That everything would be OK for them.

You Never Know What Is Inside

After the service, those of us who had entered the sanctuary filtered back into the lobby. Most people went back to speaking with those in the lobby. Some people were talking about the message. Even those in the lobby knew what was said, it just didn’t affect them. Those who were inside had no idea that most of the congregation never actually entered the sanctuary. Most people didn’t know they turned back just before the doors.

I stopped in the bathroom on my way out. It was a filthy one room stall bathroom with a cheap slide lock being the only thing keeping the door shut.

On the outside it looked fantastic, clean, and new. On the inside, however, the bathroom was falling apart, moldy, and stinky. I looked outside through a crack in the wall and saw people walking by remarking at how clean the place looked. They had no idea what the inside was like.


Only God Knows

I suppose this is a great interpretation of those around us, and how God sees us. You never know who someone really is and what they are like on the inside. You and I can only see what each of us present to the world, but God knows. He knows everything about you, me, and the rest of humanity.

Don’t stop at the doors and turn back once called. You never know when it will be too late.

‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’ Matthew 7:13-14

‘Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.’ – 1 John 2:15-16

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’ – Revelation 3:15-16