In the face of all the suffering happening in the world today, Village Church Pastor Matt Chandler points to the Cross of Christ and the merciful Wisdom of God working through all the mess to save each person.
The Christian Post featured the March 20 sermon of Chandler during a gathering at a campus in Flower Mound, Texas. The sermon, entitled "What We'll Face," emphasized the reality and importance of suffering in the lives of Christians. Chandler, author of "Explicit Gospel," clarified that suffering is normal for it has been experienced by humanity throughout history. He then pointed to Jesus, Who Himself had to suffer through the Cross to save mankind.
"Jesus' pathway of suffering is the path to glory. It's not a life of ease and comfort that's the path to glory. We see in the suffering of Jesus Christ that once and for all He broke the back of sin. Jesus Christ went to the cross and absorbed God's wrath toward all of humanity's sin," Chandler said.
"Christianity doesn't pretend that suffering is not real. It doesn't pretend that it's fair. It doesn't pretend that it's not really there. It doesn't do that. Nor does it pretend that it doesn't have meaning," he stressed.
The 47-year-old pastor revealed that God allows suffering to strengthen, refine, and bring people closer to Him. God gives life and empowers everyone to get through the suffering they face. It is through suffering that God exposes a person's idols and humbles a person to realize his or her weakness and dependence on God.
Chandler highlighted that Christ's passion enabled man to receive His righteousness through which God sees and judges each person. This is why, he explained, God can delight, rejoice, and celebrate each person. God sees His Son in man, especially when man trusts in His saving work. Chandler cited John 3:17 to stress that Jesus saved humanity from sin and death and will come to save and not to condemn.
At this point in the sermon, Chandler disclosed his own share of suffering and how God's merciful hands saved him. Chandler recalled his life, which he likened to King David's in the Bible. The pastor said God's goodness is evident in suffering, which he has personally seen after being healed from brain cancer, going through a difficult marriage, and all sorts of issues in life. He disclosed that he doesn't know where he would be if God didn't save him. Similarly, God did the same for humanity when He intervened through Jesus Christ.
Chandler then coaxed parents to replicate God in how they raise their children. The pastor underscored the need to comfort children during times of disappointment as parents should but warned about preventing children to experience such circumstances. He said it would be a disservice to coddle children with their disappointments. Saving children from disappointment is teaching them to be like a candle. Instead of doing so, parents should teach their children fortitude so that they can be accountable to the pain that comes from their mistakes.
To visually imprint the mysterious beauty of suffering on his congregation, Chandler likened everyone to a bonfire and contrasted it to a candle, which easily gets extinguished by the wind. The pastor said the wind--suffering--makes one stronger and burn brighter and hotter in life. This is why, he stressed, people should not shield themselves from the wind, which is needed for one's growth.
"Your growth as a person, it happens not in comfort but at the edge of your growth, where it feels stressful and painful. And that's when you're growing as a person," Chandler said.