So, Matt steps up to the stage. I already know that he's going to be talking about the shepherd and his unregenerate sheep. I've watched the videos that talked about why Piper chose him to come. I know where I think this talk is going. Basically, he's there to answer the question what do you do about all those around you who say they're sheep, but don't act like it? We've all got those people in our lives down here in Texas. Almost everyone you know goes to one church or another. Or at least they say they do.
I went to jr. high and high school in a town with less than a thousand people in it. But still, there were six churches in town. You could find five more just by driving a few miles down the highway. Most Sundays all across Texas and the rest of the south the churches are filled with people. There may only be 14 people there, but that's because it's in the middle of no where, west Texas. There may be only five houses within 15 miles of it! But they're there...Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday nights...and if you're really religious, you're there for the business meeting before the service starts.
Down here, almost everyone in the stands on a Friday night would say they were a Christian. Truly. They might be able to name one or two people they know that "don't go to church"...and they'd be able to talk about that strange, white building that went up next to the jr. high. But not them...and not their friends. They're Christians. Unfortunately, too many of those claims for Christianity come from those that are basing it on what happened one summer at VBS or on the fact that their daddy was a deacon and their family has sat on the same pew at church since their great-granddaddy helped build it...see that plaque on the side? Going to church here is simply...what you do.
I heard Don Carson last night say...
The rising secularization...does not mean the diminishing of religion...secularization does not shut down religion. What it does is shift it to the periphery of life so that you can be ever so religious as long as it doesn't matter...so long as it's a just private thing...so that if anybody wants to say that their religion ought to change how people think and act and live, what laws should be passed and the like...No! No! No! You mustn't do that!This is an attitude Matt Chandler knows too well in the Dallas area. He starts with the story of how he got to where he is at The Village. A funny, sad, angry story. At the end of it he says...
In December of 2002, despite my anger towards evangelicals, I became the pastor of a church of evangelicals in what Christianity Today called the “center of the evangelical world.” Despite the fact that my heart had always burned for the prodigal, God sent me to the older brother.A little pang there. Isn't that true? Too often I'm just like the older brother in that story, wanting to know where my piece of the pie is. Not concerned, not burning with desire for the lost. Just sitting back at home, feeling proud of myself for keeping the faith, wanting my goat to throw a party for my friends. Yeah. Little pain there. I needed that.
But...onto those sheep...what about them? I'm ready. What's he going to tell us to do? How do you talk to them? How can I break through to those around me? How do you convince someone that they're not a believer when they think they are? Should you even try? I wait pen in hand for him to get started.
He tells us he's going to 1 Timothy 4. Really? I'm thinking. I start reviewing what I know of that chapter...don't let anyone think less of you because you're young...set an example...keep a close watch...on yourself. Uh-oh. I don't like where this is going. Yeah. I was right. I didn't like where he was going. But it's good.