Are You For Real? - June 16, 2018
James Collins: James Collins

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22-23

Last week, I was in Kentucky visiting the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. These attractions are filled with life-size wax figures of Biblical characters. Someone made the comment, “They look so real.” Have you ever been fooled by a wax figure? Several years ago, my wife, Amanda, and I visited a wax museum. They had a wax figure standing facing an exhibit like he was part of the crowd. I stood there for ten minutes talking to that wax man before Amanda came up and said, “That’s a dummy, you dummy!” Have you ever been fooled by a bowl of fruit that looks delicious only to find out that it was wax? I once ate half a wax apple before I realized that it was not for human consumption.

I am reminded of a story. Many years ago, in Atlanta, Georgia, a huge apartment building caught on fire. Thelma, a young mother who lived in the apartment building, gathered up her children to escape the flames. She could hardly see. The smoke was blinding. Thelma headed out with her children. She had a kid in both arms. She had two kids in tow. She hurried down the hallway. She hurried down the steps. She hurried out the front door. The fire was so consuming; it was a miracle that she made it out with those children.

When her children were safe, Thelma turned around and started to run back inside the burning apartment. A fireman stopped her. He said, “Ma’am, you can’t go back in that building.” Thelma said, “Sir, I only had two arms. But I have a bunch of kids. I got out all that I could. But I’ve got a baby back up there in a baby bed.” The fireman said, “Ma’am, would you look at that building? Look at all that fire coming out of the windows. Look at all that smoke. You can’t go back in that building.” The young fireman was touched as he saw tears rolling down Thelma’s face. As she sobbed, the fireman said, “Ma’am, I’ll go. I’ll go back up there and get your baby.”

The young fireman put on a bunker suit. He strapped an oxygen tank on his back and put an oxygen mask on his face. Then Thelma told him how may steps he would have to climb up to get to the second floor. She told him how many steps he would have to get to her apartment. She told him how to get to the baby’s room. Then the young fireman rushed into the inferno.

The young fireman tried to keep his bearing. But the smoke was blinding him. The flames were scorching him. He walked into an apartment. He hoped it was the right one. He couldn’t see anything. He reached out his hand through the smoke. His heart just about leaped up in his throat because he felt the rungs of a baby crib. He felt inside of the crib. He felt the body of the baby. It was wrapped up in a little blanket. He picked up the baby. He turned and ran from the flames with the baby under his arm.

The young fireman ran down the stairs with fire jumping up at him. It seemed like the flames were chasing him. People cheered as he finally burst out the front door. Thelma ran up and took the baby from out of his arms. Suddenly, Thelma screamed. She screamed, “Oh, no! No! No! No!” She fell to her knees screaming, “You’ve got my baby’s baby doll! You brought out my baby’s doll!”

The point is: It looked real. It felt real. But it wasn’t real. The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of a day when people will claim to be Christians, but they are not. They look real. They seem real. But they are not real followers of Jesus. Today, I’m not asking you if you’re a good person. I’m not asking you if you’re a Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or Pentecostal. I’m not asking if you have signed a piece of paper. I’m not asking if you have been baptized. I want to know; do you know Him? Do you personally know Him? Are you fooling people, or are you the real deal?

James Collins is the Pastor of Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. 

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