I don’t know of any person alive who’s faith has been more of an inspiration to me than that of Matt Chandler (pastor at The Village Church in TX). I don’t even listen to his podcast religiously like many people I know, but God has used his preaching to grow and influence me in profound ways, and for that I am unceasingly thankful. Seeing his love for Jesus, his dogged proclamation of the gospel and the fact that God is the great reward and prize of the Christian faith, and especially his faithfulness and maturity while battling a life-endangering brain tumor has challenged me to no end.
So it’s crazy to think about the way he actually met Jesus.
Have you ever seen the movie Saved, with Mandy Moore? If you have, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. She plays the role of a very cheesy, over the top, insincerely over-zealous Christian who is just honestly sad to watch. The funny thing is, her character reminds me a tad bit of myself in high school. (Don’t worry, I definitely wasn’t as crazy or weird. And I was much more sincere and actually loved people. And I had friends:)
But I was very zealous like her. I would stop anyone and talk to them about Jesus. I once led a stranger in the sinner’s prayer in the parking lot of a gas station. If I felt any kind of inclination at all to talk to a particular person, I would turn my car around, go out of my way, do anything. It didn’t matter. I’d rather interrupt my whole day than bear that guilty feeling of “I should have talked to them but I didn’t.”
Those of you who know me know that I am different now. I would lean more on the side of relational evangelism now–that you should ideally get to know people, serve them, and invest in relationship instead of just whopping them over the head with “Do you know Jesus?” And I kind of shake my head thinking about some of the things I used to do, like the guy in the parking lot. I didn’t even get his phone number! What was I thinking? I guess I was just like, “Alright, see you in heaven!” Yikes.
But when I hear Matt Chandler tell the story of how he came to faith, it makes me feel better. He grew up in a non-Christian home, then moved from San Fransisco to Texas in high school. And one day while getting dressed for football practice, the guy beside him literally says, “Hey, my name is Jeff, I need to tell you about Jesus…do you want to do that now or later?”
What? Mandy Moore led Matt Chandler to Jesus?
I’m sure Jeff was more sincere, and that he did build relationship over time. But still. That’s one of those things where I would step in to someone I knew and be like, “You probably shouldn’t do that…”
But God used that guy’s boldness, and now Matt is probably one of the greatest preachers of our time.
That just goes to show that it’s God who is doing the real work, through or sometimes in spite of our meek and wayward attempts.
And that is very freeing.
So, what about the guy from the parking lot? Maybe I just confused him–made him think that all he had to do was say a magic string of words to punch his ticket to heaven. I really hope not, but maybe that’s what happened. Or…maybe he really met Jesus that night. He might even be the next Matt Chandler for all we know.
Either way, it’s great to know that:
a) God loves that guy,
b) He has certainly pursued him in many other ways than me, and
c) He doesn’t need me to reach him.
That’s very good news.
Because if Mandy Moore can be used to lead Matt Chandler to Jesus, what do we have to worry about?
(If you aren’t familiar with Matt, or even if you are and haven’t seen this, check out the video below titled “Jesus Wants The Rose.” It’s one of my favorites.)