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My Crisis in Theology

December 21, 2009

On Thanksgiving day one of my hero’s when it comes to preaching , Matt Chandler had a seizure. A very short time later they discovered that Matt had a tumor in his right frontal lobe and had to have surgery to remove it. After the surgery and meeting with the doctors it was revealed that they could not remove the entire tumor and that Matt was going to have to pursue some other options to beat the cancerous tumor.

Matt’s situation has personally been on my heart because I love to learn from his teaching. He is really someone that I have paid attention to for quite some time now, and this whole ordeal has brought a number of questions to mind.

How Matt and the Village Church have chosen to handle this situation is blowing my mind. Here is just a sample of what they are saying:

The Lord is calling Matt and Lauren and The Village Church body to endure this trial. It will be a challenging road for Matt, his family and our church body. The gospel is our hope and the Lord is our strength. Matt and Lauren continue to find solace and hope in Christ. They weep facing this trial, but not as those without hope and perspective. The gospel clarifies their suffering and promises more of Christ through it all.

Specifically, pray for the following:

  • Wisdom for all the coming decisions
  • Strength and peace to endure
  • The kids’ (Audrey, Reid and Norah) hearts; pray the Lord is merciful as they process and that their little hearts do not grow embittered
  • The Chandlers and The Village would suffer well because of the gospel and for the sake of Christ’s name

In the churches that I have worked for and was raised in NEVER have I heard someone ask people to pray that someone “would suffer well because of the gospel.” As I watch Matt’s events play out I keep waiting for someone to post a list on their website of things to do. Things like; fast, scream to God (aggressive prayer), claim healing, rebuke Satan, renounce reality and so on and so on… then pass the list out to all their prayer warriors in the church.

I keep waiting for it, but I know that it is not coming. And I am thankful that it is not… for the gospels sake. For the past year I have sought after another way of thinking… because the one I was being taught in school and church was broke. And Matt’s situation has really caused me to have a crisis in how I see God and the bible.

The Gospel is more important than healing, happiness, and and seeing your daughter walk down the isle at her wedding. It is more than feeling secure in earthly things, having a good marriage and a stress free job.

Matt is modeling what it means to have Christ first and having that be enough. Causing me to rethink the way I was raised. Suffering well? Who ever heard of that? Thank you Matt for reinforcing what I have been seeking for the past year. Thank for Jesus for being more than everything Matt will ever need. Thank you for being more than everything I will ever need.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. dpda2j permalink
    December 21, 2009 7:31 pm

    Good thoughts buddy!

  2. Benjamin Davis permalink*
    December 21, 2009 7:49 pm

    Dave am I right on about this? I know you grew up AG the same as me? What are your thoughts?

  3. Lauren permalink
    December 21, 2009 11:25 pm

    I listened to some of his sermons today on Abbie’s suggestion – they were really good. I can see why you like him AND he’s definitely Calvinist on some of his perspectives for sure. Geneva would be proud haha. But seriously I liked him a lot.

  4. December 22, 2009 1:57 am

    Enduring a disease is not suffering for the Gospel in my mind. If so, why then did Jesus take stripes on His back?

  5. Benjamin Davis permalink*
    December 22, 2009 4:19 pm

    Chris I kind of see your question as two different topics. Yes Christ took stripes on His back. And Yes we should suffer for the Gospel.

    To be honest I am not sure what you are trying to say. Why else endure unless for the Gospel? While suffering ask for healing, but the focus should never be the healing. It should be Christ and the Gospel.

    Maybe you could explain your thoughts a little more. I would love to hear them bud. Hope all is well, hope to hear from you soon.

  6. December 22, 2009 5:21 pm

    At first glance, it seems that it is being said that Matt Chandler is enduring this disease because of the Gospel (as if it happened to him because he’s a Christian and must endure it to show the world how to “properly” respond). I do not understand the concept of because something is happening in my life, I must suffer through it because of the Gospel. I do not know much about Mr. Chandler, nor his situation, other than knowing of his recent illness.

    Why else suffer other than the Gospel? I agree. But how does acknowledging an illness and accepting it’s demise honor the Gospel or Jesus?

    Again, at first glance, it did not seem as if prayer was being requested for healing… rather that he would suffer well because of the Gospel. How is that right? I believe that God’s healing is available and just enduring a disease does not necessarily bring Jesus glory. Yes, I understand that during trials and tribulations as we press on and honor Jesus, that He does receive glory. But how much more glory would He receive if our trial and tribulation was supernaturally dealt with? Not so that we’re made more comfortable but so that He’s given more opportunity to do what He has said He does and will do.

    My comment concerning Jesus’ stripes… if Jesus paid for it, then why do we settle for anything less than what He paid for?

    I’m obviously not in Matt Chandler’s shoes, so I can not understand fully his perspective. I do pray peace and grace upon him, as well as healing.

  7. December 22, 2009 11:47 pm

    chris, matt chandler isn’t saying that he is suffering because of the Gospel. he is saying that the Gospel is sufficient in all circumstances, always, no matter what. it’s not that “i must suffer through it because of the Gospel.” it’s “because of the Gospel i find all-consuming unquenchable joy because i have a home in heaven with Jesus (aka, the Gospel).” the source of joy is not health or success, the source of joy is greater than any temporary or earthly thing (including health) because it is an eternal thing.

    concerning how healing brings Jesus glory – to say that healing brings more glory than joy during suffering is actually not biblical. Jesus himself talks about this whole topic in the parable of the rich man and lazarus in luke 16:19-31. in verse 27 the rich man asks father abraham to send lazarus back from the dead so that his five brothers will not have to go to the same place of torment. notice abraham’s response in verse 31 – “if they do not hear moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”

    this verse shows us that miracles are wholly inadequate. however, the word of God (moses and the prophets – this refers to the Scriptures, moses – the pentateuch or first five books of the bible and the prophets – the rest of the old testament) is adequate. in fact, the word of God is MORE adequate than miracles. if the word of God is not enough, miracles will be worthless.

    this text also speaks to the first thing i talked about. in verse 22 both men die and the rich man cries out from hades in verse 24 asking for relief from his torment. abraham responds by saying “child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish” (verse 25). what was the story of the righteous man’s life? suffering. what was the story of the sinful man’s life? prosperity. lazarus was not relieved of his suffering on earth. rather he received the greater reward in eternity. his comfort in the presence of God far outweighed the pain he endured on earth. and he endured the pain while on earth, he did not get it supernaturally taken away from him. he endured it and received great reward.

    i believe that God heals. i also believe that every physical healing is a temporary healing. eventually a healed person’s body will die and they will go to their reward. i also believe that sometimes God does not heal because he wants to show the sufficiency of His Gospel and the unquenchable joy of eternal life. healing brings God glory only insofar as it is connected to the Gospel. healing without the Gospel is consumeristic abuse of grace. the Gospel without healing is everything that could ever be needed and more than we ever deserved. the Gospel is more important than healing.

    i hope you found this comment interesting. yours in Christ,

    mark santistevan

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