Matt Chandler, the pastor of The Village Church in Texas, cautioned his congregation against succumbing to the “outrage of our day” and urged them to instead choose the kind of hope only Christians can possess.
In a sermon titled “Resurrection Hope,” the 47-year-old pastor told those gathered at the church's Flower Mound campus that God designed humans as “intellectual and psychological creatures that have the ability to choose what they give their thoughts over to.”
“Hope is a choice. Hope doesn’t just happen to you. You don’t just wake up one day and say: ‘Gosh, I don’t know what happened, I sure am hopeful today.’ No, you choose to hope,” Chandler said.
“You are choosing to fuel and feed and cultivate; anxiety, anger, depression, rage or you’re choosing to cultivate hope and beauty and gratitude and gladness,” he added.
Christians should be mindful of the thoughts that they dwell on, he said, because the way someone talks to themselves impacts the way they live their lives.
“No one is as mean to you as you are. Nobody lies to you like you lie to you. Nobody has been crueler to you than you have been to you. You just don’t even listen to what you say to yourself. If another person said to you what you say to you, my guess is you would punch them in the eye,” Chandler said.
The pastor said that in his own life, he's had to become conscientious about what his mind dwells on — and this includes no longer watching the news and limiting those whom he follows on social media.
“I’m telling you, [watching the news] was just not good for my soul. I am naturally bent toward passion. You let me see a bunch of injustice and I’m going to freak out. … And I needed to cut that out,” Chandler described. “I have trimmed who I follow on social media. I don’t want people provoking me toward anger and toward anxiety and toward fear.”
Chandler said that Christians should find their confidence in their eternal salvation and not in things that will create negative reactions in themselves. Believers should expose themselves to the kind of positivity that leads to joy.
“I know how this story ends. I know who we are in Christ. Why wouldn’t I just stir up every input possible to stir up faith and beauty and gladness and gratitude? Like why? Why give people an in to steal what’s rightfully yours?” he said.
When Christians allow negative thoughts to rule over their minds, Chandler said, it can potentially lead to them becoming overly fixated on themselves. This can lead to a lack of trust in God that can cause resentment.
“Are you an expert on all that’s wrong and calling it discernment? … Or are you just cynical, man?" Chandler asked.
“Don’t do that. [God] says, ‘Listen, prepare your minds for action, be serious about this and put your hopefully in God,’” the pastor said, referencing Philippians 4:8.
“Every week, the world is going to give you something to be angry about, something to be frustrated with and in some way you’re losing or crazy for loving Jesus,” he continued. “And it’s just such a ploy of the enemy to take from you the gladness that is found in hope. We win. In fact … we’ve already won.”
Christians are supposed to have hope in the Gospel, and confidence will come from that hope. This confidence and hope should involve obedience to God through transformational holiness, and a Christian becomes more like Christ as they continue to follow Him.
“Jesus both confronts and comforts me because He does both,” Chandler said. “Jesus is going to bear weight on you because He is eternal and you’re not.”
Christians live in a world that strives to remove any and all friction from life, he said, yet "Jesus has claim over us."
“He is King, not buddy. He is Lord and not just some kind of a genie in a lamp," Chandler stressed, later adding: “If your God never disagrees with you, chances are, you are just worshiping yourself … but not the real you … but an idealized version of you."
God wants to give Christians joy through their obedience, Chandler noted, which he said means Christians should have fear or awe of God. Fear of God, he said, should not rob Christians of their confidence.
“Every ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not,’ in the Bible is about God leading you into joy,” he said. “Every ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not’ in the Bible is not God trying to take something from you, but actually God trying to give you something that’s underneath your … compulsion. … It’s not always easy to obey Jesus, but it’s about you being led into the fullness of life.”
“Jesus ain’t your homeboy," he added. "He’s just not. He’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we would do good to allow the Scriptures and what we see in the Scriptures of who Jesus is to create a deep reverence or what the Bible calls fear [of God]."