#24 Jesus Christ: The Light of Life (11/05/02)

By Robert A. Schuller

I have one of the most beautiful topics that I'm speaking on this morning. I have spoken on it probably twenty times. It is the familiar text in the Bible when Jesus Christ declares He is the Light of the world. He is the Light in my life and I want to share why I make such a statement. First of all, Jesus Christ lights my way. He gives me the vision to dream, then He gives me the courage to try and not be afraid of failure. Through following His principles I experience real success. Yes, Jesus Christ is the Light that overcomes the darkness of negativity.

The theme of light is throughout the Bible. It is there at the very beginning of creation,

"And God spoke and there was LIGHT." (Genesis 1:3)

And we see how God provided light in the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt,

"And there was before them a pillar of LIGHT which guided them
through the wilderness by night."
(Exodus 13:21)

And then again in Proverbs,

"... the law is the LIGHT that
lights our way."
(Proverbs 6:23)

And then we read the words from Jesus Christ in the Gospel of St. John:

"I am the LIGHT of the world, whoever follows Me will never walk
in darkness but will have the LIGHT of life."
(John 8:12)

It is interesting to realize that when Christ shared those words it was directly after He saved a woman from being stoned to death. Remember the woman who was being accused of adultery? And how the religious leaders and the people of that time, including her husband, picked up stones to stone her. But Jesus intervened and said, "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone." And one by one all of them, yes, each one walked away and the woman's life was spared from the darkness of sin to a life of light through Jesus Christ.

It was at the time of the special celebration called the Feast of Tabernacles ¡K the Feast of Tabernacles was held in the inner courtyard of the Tabernacle where there were huge chandeliers. And the younger priests would ascend ladders to light all of the candles in each chandelier. It was said that this incredible light would light up the entire city of Jerusalem. I suspect that was a bit of an exaggeration, but nevertheless, this incredible light would shine brightly, bringing light to the entire region. It is then that Jesus said these powerful words,

"I am the LIGHT of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.
(John 8:12)

In this statement we see the Creation, we see the Exodus, we see the Commandment and the new Covenant of God all wrapped up into this one life, this human being named Jesus Christ. Whoever follows Him will not have to walk in darkness, stumbling through life.

You know we don't even understand what darkness is any more in our society. We flip a switch and the lights go on. The sunset doesn't change our way of living very much. If you want to play golf, you can even golf at night, they have lighted golf courses. There are batting cages at night, if you wish to go and play baseball and sport fields are ablaze at night with huge lights in every major city.
If you're following Jesus Christ, He is a Light in a dark world for you, no matter what your quest is. I think of people who have come so close to allowing the vision of their dream to slip away from success. The greatest people on planet earth have come so close to missing their greatness.

Dare To Believe in Your Dreams

I've been studying recently the great people who have had tremendous success. One person I studied recently is Luciano Pavarotti. We all know that name, Pavarotti, the world's greatest opera singer. (Whenever I'm in the shower, I pretend I'm Pavarotti.) His grandmother, while bouncing him on her knee would say, "You're going to be a great man some day." And Pavarotti's mother told him, "You're going to be a wonderful banker." If his mother had what her dream for his life, Pavarotti would not be singing, he would be a banker today. There is nothing wrong with bankers, it is just that God gave Pavarotti a special gift and for him to ignore that gift would be a tragedy to society. Pavarotti became a schoolteacher, but at the age of 22 he made a decision to take a leap of faith to quit teaching school and to become an insurance salesman. Could you imagine that? And he started to study voice. How close did Pavarotti come to never singing? How close are you? How close are you to missing out on your dream? How close are you to failing to follow your vision?

Dare to Try

This week I went to see the movie, "The Rookie." It is a fabulous movie. It's a true story of the life of Jim Morris. How close did he, the world's greatest athlete, come to never even trying out? The only reason he tried out for baseball was because his high school baseball team, which he was coaching, made a bet with him and he lost the bet. And as a result he had to go and try out for his team. As a young father, he is at the ball field wheeling the baby, changing the baby's diaper, and taking care of the two other toddlers. As he holds the hands of his children, he is called up to try and pitch. It is an amazing story of his exceptional talent. He has a pitching arm that leads him to the major leagues.

Success Says "I Can!"

The problem with our society today is we don't understand what success is. Too many people think that success is making the major leagues ... Or success is having the plaque on the wall ... Or success is having the right number in our bank account. But according to Jesus, that has nothing to do with success. Success is accepting the challenge to follow the light. That's what Jesus Christ does for us.

Success is getting up off your chair and saying, "I can. I can move forward." Failure isn't failing to get the gold. I look at all of the athletes who competed in the Olympics this past year. There were many who did not get the gold medal, but every single one of them, without question, was a success. I guarantee you; there isn't a parent whose shirt wouldn't be bursting at the seam if their son or daughter was on the Olympic team. It doesn't matter whether they got a gold, silver, bronze or no medal at all ¡K they made the team. They took the steps and they succeeded. And we need to realize that if we are going to succeed we have to try out. Jim Morris was a success as soon as he went to that tryout. Pavarotti was a success as soon as he quit teaching and followed his dream to be a singer and started taking his vocal lessons.

My father, Robert Schuller, was a success the minute he went into seminary and said, "I'm going to be a minister." If you are not following the dream that God has for your life, you're not following Jesus Christ. The light has been extinguished. And this morning, I want you to hear the words of Jesus Christ... "I am the LIGHT of the world."

There comes a time in your life when you say, "I'm going to follow my dreams." It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter how poor you are. It doesn't matter how big or small you are. It's just a matter of taking the steps, following the call and being the person that God has called you to be. You might stub your toes. There are going to be some challenges. That's the way the world looks at it, not the way God looks at it. God just wants you to take the steps.

Have No Fear of Failure!

Yes, you might face some failures. There are very successful people who fail in various ways. You would think that big high level corporations who spend thousands of dollars in packaging were successful. Millions of dollars are spent in packaging so the market should be pretty foolproof ... but listen to this: [1]

On a Sears hairdryer, this is what it says: "Do not use while sleeping."

How About this one on a bag of Fritos corn chips: "You can be a winner. No purchase necessary. Details inside."

This next one took a lot of expert thinking. Somebody sat down to write the directions on how to use Dial Soap. This is what the package reads: "Dial Soap. Directions: Use like regular soap."

This next one is brilliant. Swanson Frozen Dinners: "Serving suggestions: Defrost."

On Tesco's Tiramisu Dessert - I'm giving you the brands so you can examine for yourself that I'm not kidding you. On the bottom of the package is printed: "Do not turn upside down." It's a good thing I didn't turn it upside down to read the warning.

On Marks and Spencer Bread Pudding: "Product will be hot after heating."

On packaging for a Rowenta Iron: "Do not iron clothes on the body."

Oh - on Nytol Sleep Aid: "Warning, may cause drowsiness."

And this one is on almost every Christmas light package you buy: "For indoor or outdoor use only."

The most hilarious of all is the American Airlines package of nuts: "Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts." That's true. That's American Airlines.

Here's the point. These are well-paid professionals! I promise you that you can do anything better than that. No matter what your dreams are ... no matter what God has called you to do ...success is spelled not in the accomplishment of the goal, but ... success is taking the steps and playing the game, getting up in the morning and doing something to carry that dream to its fullest extent.

If someone has ever told you are gifted, or you have a talent, or you should be doing something special, then this message is for you. You need to develop that talent. Where do you think it came from? Hear the words of Jesus who says,

"I am the LIGHT of the world. Follow Me and you will have the LIGHT of life."

What do I do? I follow Jesus, He lights my way and He will show you the way if you just have the faith to follow His positive dream for your life.

Dear God, I thank You that this is a time when I can make a decision to move forward and be the person that You have called me to be ... to follow my dream ... to go where You have called me to go. And so, O Lord, You have declared that You are the light of the world, that You will lead my path and that You will give me the light to shine in the darkness. So give me the faith, Lord, to be a in a light in a dark world following You and to move where You want me to go. I thank You, Lord, and I praise Your name. Amen.

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