I knew I’d be proven wrong. I ended up meeting and seeing perhaps my biggest living hero this past weekend. Matt Chandler, of the Village Church in Dallas, TX was the means by which God stirred it in me to go to seminary; he was the means by which God started forming my preaching style; he was the means by which a bulk of my ministry philosophy was formed. In short, much of my life as it is now is because of this man’s faithfulness and how God has formed me to resonate with it. I’m in Dallas for a week to see family, so I went to a service at the Village Church this morning.
Being one of the fastest growing churches in America, I thought it wise to get there as early as possible. The service was at 9am, and I ended up getting there at about 8:15. My brother and I were the first ones there to the church, save for a few people setting up Communion. We actually got to the building the same time Chandler did. We walked up to the doors from the parking lot with Chandler, coffee in hand, and made some small talk. I told him I was from Westminster, had met their Counseling pastor at the CCEF Conference last month, and that I went to Eric Mason’s church. He apparently has a great relationship with my Philadelphia pastor, so he continued some of our brief conversation – now having made our way into the sanctuary – about Philly and Pastor Mason (or E-Mase, as Chandler called him). I thanked him for how the Church has ministered to me (trying not to seem like “that guy” though I’m sure I sort of did). He appreciated it, but then a congregant intercepted him for sound check business. Our “meeting” was over.
One of the overarching refrains of his sermon was: “you are not as smart as you think you are.” This was evident this morning as I realized that the sanctification I observed in my previous post is still in progress. For those that missed it (or just don’t feel like reading it), I talked about how I have historically idealized my heroes so much that it influences way more about me than it should. I wrote how in recent weeks, God has been disillusioning me about these men, so that I am “becoming my own man” as it seems.
Well, it wasn’t until halfway through the second song of the worship service I realized just how frustrated I was that I wasn’t able to get a good picture of both the worship set and Chandler praying! I wasn’t able to pay attention in any sort of capacity, much less actually meditate and see God’s beauty and sufficiency. I was restless at heart determined to find the images that would build myself up in others’ eyes and so put my security once more in people. As the blinders were rudely pulled off my eyes to my own immaturity and wrong worship, I was brought to one of those moments of self reflection where you’re almost ashamed to be in our Father’s presence. Where the sin in the deepest recesses of your heart is exposed to the light and it hurts. At the same time, though, Michael Bleeker started an original song about how our joy and security is in the wrath of God being poured out on Christ. I was then free. At least for the moment, my sin was plunged into the glorious wrath-consuming righteousness-imputing grace of God. Oh, the worship that comes from the heart that sees its own weakness and sin held as the backdrop against the display of the cross!
The rest of the service was amazing. No more pictures, no more video, no more angst about being able to “prove” that I have more “connections” than others. For those few moments at least, the grace of God so allowed me to be divorced from my lust for human esteem, my addiction to have others see me as someone worth being around. And I was able to worship God with all of myself in singing, prayer, and meditation on the clear communication and faithful preaching of His Word. In short, this morning was amazing. I’m really starting to wonder if God’s ultimately calling me to Dallas.
I love this church, I love its ministry, and I love my God.
So, please, I beg of all of you. Everyone that knows me. Everyone that reads this disjointed post. As often as the grace of God inspires you to remember. Always remind me: I am definitely not as smart as I think I am, but the cross of Christ is wholly gracious and sufficient in spite of that. It is in that gospel statement my greatest sin and greatest hope are held before my gaze both for His Glory and my joy.
Ah, what a good day . . .