Another four a.m., another dream. This one involved dogs, gangsters and the FBI and a whole lot of action, but it ended in an unexpected way. What I am about to relay is mostly my dream but I’ve added details to better explain the feeling of the dream.
Somewhere in all of that dog/gangster/FBI action dream I ended up in huge facility with hundreds of people. Some were my friends and family members, but most were strangers. We were being sorted into religious categories, not for eternity, but more for a game. The room was long, like an airport terminal but not quite as massive. The moderator stood near what I will refer to as the north end for lack of better explanation, and called for the true non-believers, the self-proclaimed Atheists, to form a group at the far north end of the room. At that instruction the crowd began to stir and the Atheists made their way surely and proudly to their place. The rest of the crowd began to shuffle their feet, unsure of what was to come, but many people raced to the far south of the room as if their eternal life depended on it. Many others took off after them including some of my people. They ended up so far away they did not hear the rest of the instructions.
Some people were nervous and did not know what to do. They started for the south side but lingered, waiting to see what everyone else would do. Some stood firm, listening for further instructions. The moderator then asked for the righteous people to make a group in the middle of the room. She described them as people who spouted a belief in God as a higher authority and considered themselves good people. This group in the middle should be made up of people who attended a church and phrases like “God willing” and “Amen, brother” were part of their regular vocabulary. This group would be people who comfort the sick, give to the poor, and keep the environment clean all in the name of what is right and just. The middle of the room filled almost as quickly as the far north side of the room.
Then the moderator asked another group to form just slightly south of the middle. She called for this group to be made up of people who did not define themselves as anything. The people in this group did not profess any faith, did not believe strongly in any deity although they did not discard religion entirely. These were people who believed themselves enlightened because they did not bear the burden of a particular faith. These were people who believed in themselves and what they could accomplish on their own. Some people shuffled between the group in the middle and this group, unsure of where they fit best.
Finally, the moderator asked for the true Christian believers to make a group just north of the middle. This group was the true believers, the children of God, the followers of Jesus who had no doubts of their faith and knew their place even though it was not always a comfortable place to be. But they could not help but wonder why they were so close to the Atheists instead of being at the polar opposite side of the room. Why were they being closely categorized with non-believers?
After the experiment was over I walked to the far south side of the room where that group was waiting. They had retired to a small room off of the main corridor, almost like they were in hiding. I knew people in this group and when I saw them I felt pity for them. When they saw me they were relieved because they thought I had turned from my faith and taken a place at the wrong end of the room. They had no idea it was all over because they were too far away to hear anything that had taken place. This group was so sure of themselves as Christians that they did not take time to listen to the instructions. They followed blindly and put their faith in other people instead of Jesus. They thought they knew who they were and what they were but they were too far from the Truth to realize their misgivings.
So why were the true believers so close to the true non-believers? I think it was because even Atheists have a stronger conviction in their lack of faith then some Christians have in their acknowledgment of their faith. You can interpret it in your own way.
Where was I in all of this? That’s the curious part. I know I wasn’t at the far north or far south ends. I hope I ended up just north of the middle. But honestly I think I was just an onlooker watching from a distance. I may have even been the moderator. It was only a dream, after all. Just a normal, everyday- wake-you-up-and-make-you-write-it-down dream.
Welcome to Lent.
Psst: Please don’t announce to the world what you are giving up, or the good deeds you are going to do during Lent. You lose points that way, don’t you know? Matthew has a lot to say about that in Chapter 6. Now might be a good time to read it.