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This Week's Teaching: "A vision of people crying out, 'We Didn't Know! We Didn't Know!'"
This is probably a complicated thought and I'm not sure I'll be able to do it justice. I just wanted to tell you something that came to me. I was in a worship service with other believers, and I had this impression.
Now I'm doing ministry here in Amish country in Ohio. And by doing ministry, I mean, I'm just being present to whatever situations God brings to me to encourage faithfulness and to strengthen the believers. And if I can plant and encourage microchurches, meaning little tiny expressions where people get together and study the scriptures, that is my heart. Like I want to do that and I'm having those conversations.
Anyway, I was in this worship service, a conventional service, and we were singing songs, which I consider praying to God with a common voice. That's why we sing our songs. And I had this prayer/vision of all the believers of this area, in Holmes County, falling face down before the Lord in worship.
Now, I'm not talking about in a worship service falling face down toward the stage or under compulsion of an emotional song. I'm not talking about that. I actually saw it out in the fields, in the farms, in the homes. Just this mass expression of worship. But not a "wow, Lord, we love you so much" worship. More of a dread, "Lord, we haven't totally caught vision of you as we should have" sort of moment.
Worship. Falling face down. Trembling.
And I saw the Amish falling face down before God. I saw the Presbyterians falling face down before God. The Lutherans, the Mennonites, the Pentecostals falling face down in dread. Face down before God.
And in this prayer, in this vision, I heard them saying, with trembling, "We didn't know! We didn't know! We didn't know! We didn't know!" And that surprised me to hear that. That surprised me, that people who I would relate to as believers -- in general, they are followers of Christ, they are Christian -- falling down before God trembling, saying, "We didn't know. We didn't know. We didn't know. We didn't know. We didn't know."
And that was jarring to me because how could they not know when their declaration of faith is that they do know: "We believe you are Lord. We believe we are sinners. We come before you in confession of our sin, in repentance from all that has alienated us from you, God. We come to you believing that you reconcile those who come to you in Jesus' name."
Like, we know that. These are people who have fallen before him already, who have gone under the waters or had the waters of baptism poured over them. However they've done that. And they have identified with Christ. But I saw in this vision, "We didn't know. We didn't know. We didn't know."
And it was jarring to me because I put myself in the same camp. And I do know. But in that vision, I didn't know. I didn't know.
I saw in this vision of people falling down in worship before God ("We didn't know. We didn't know"), I saw this fear, this recognition that we didn't know as we thought we had known. And I'm not talking about doctrinal knowledge, I'm talking about the core knowledge. We didn't know as we thought that we had known. And I took issue with it in my prayer, in this vision. I took issue with it. "But Lord, we do know!"
And he reminded me of the parable where Jesus said that many at that day will come to him saying, " We were followers of yours," and he'll say, "Depart from me. I never knew you."
And he gently comforted me with the inverse of that. That at the end of the day, those of us who fall before Jesus, fall before him, in great humility, confessing our lack, our shortcomings, how far we are from him in our beings. Those of us who fall before him saying, "We didn't know." He says, "But I know. I knew you."
And he reminded me of the parable where he welcomes in those who fed him and clothed him and gave him something to drink. And they said, "When did we do that?!" He said, "When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me. Come on in. I know you, I've known you, I have called you."
And so there was a sense of dread to the vision, and I was reminded with such comfort that God knows those whom he has called. "The Lord" (this is 2 Timothy 2) "the Lord knows those whom he has called, and those who call on the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness." This is our comfort.
So my encouragement to you is be among those who fall down before the Lord even now. Not confessing your great knowledge, not confessing your great faith, not confessing how close you are to God, not like the Pharisee who stood up and said, "I thank God that I'm not like those worthless sinners," but being more like the the worthless sinner who said, "Lord have mercy on me. I'm a sinner."
Let's be among those who fall before him saying, "We don't know. We wanna know, but we don't know." And receiving comfort that he says , "I know you. I know you."
And let's be those who, through persistence and through tender great love and humility are doing good in this world, who are taking care of those who are overlooked -- feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing those who don't have enough, sheltering those who don't have shelter, taking care of those who are easy to overlook. Taking care of those who, it's easy to say, "We didn't know." And we do know.
Let's be those who fall before God saying, "We did our best." And hearing him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done. You cared for those that I cared about, even when it wasn't celebrated by those who celebrate the kingdom of this world."
I would invite you to pray with me for this area, but also for all the areas, that all who have confessed the name of the Lord would fall down in worship, not in response to a glorious emotional moment, but even with a sense of humility and great dread that we may have missed it at some point -- not doctrinally, but in living out our faith -- saying, "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me." And hearing him say, "I have mercy on you. I have mercy on you."
"We didn't know!"
"But I know. I know you."
Receive encouragement and comfort and strength today to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, confident that you have turned away from wickedness and confident that the Lord knows all whom he's called. The Lord knows you. He knows.