Jesus: The One Essential Friend (11/04/04)
by Robert H. Schuller
to read a bit from the Bible before I share some morning meditation
thoughts with you. From the gospel of St. John, chapter 20. Jesus
is resurrected and He's making His appearances to the disciples.
And He made an appearance to the apostles, but Thomas was absent.
You just never know when you skip a service, what you're going
to miss. And I'm sure Thomas said, "Oh, just another meeting.
Who needs another meeting."
Sunday you don't come to church you'd be shocked who was here.
So Thomas skipped church that day. And the others came to him
and said, "Hey, we have seen the Lord." Thomas said
to them, it's interesting isn't it. The people who aren't there,
the people who don't do their background studies, the people who
are no authorities at all, because they weren't checked out, they
come forward with such authority that negative comments.
said, "Unless I see in His hands, the print of the nails,
and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand
into His side, I will not believe." That's so interesting
that many unbelievers think they're so intelligent, so empirical,
so scientific, so logical, until they get to a bottom line and
with a great authority, they simply say, "I will not believe."
Thomas, get with it. That's not in the Bible. I'm making that
up. After eight days, His disciples were again inside and Thomas
was with them. Maybe he figured he'd better not miss any more
meetings. Jesus came. The door was shut and Jesus stood in the
midst and said, "Peace to you." And He looked at Thomas
and said, "Hey, reach your finger here. Look at My hands.
Thomas put your hand into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but
answered and said, "My Lord, and my God." And Jesus
said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have
believed." Just to say, "No big credit to you Thomas.
Anybody would believe in Me if they could stand where you're standing.
Thomas, you have seen Me, so you have believed but blessed are
those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Now, that's I and that's you and that's we. We have not seen Jesus
Christ. He has not appeared in resurrected form to us and said,
"Put your finger into My palm. Or your hand into My side."
We have not seen, but we have believed and His statement is, blessed
are those. That means you are blessed and I am blessed indeed.
That's the Easter promise of hope to the whole wide world. The
world that is spiritually hungry for reality. Not for myths, not
for superstitions, not for dogdras, dogmas and doctrines, and
not for negative sermons but hungry for the spiritual reality
my Easter message this morning, believe it or not, is about God.
I mean, there's not much I know about Him and if any minister,
priest, rabbi, moula or what have you, claims to know a lot about
God, I would become very suspicious because it's called faith
and that means we live in a realm of the mystery. Where not every
concept can be reduced to facts.
writes poetry. I'm talking about my daughter Carol Milner. She
has a line in one of her poems, which is very profound. "God
is the mystery in the vast unknown. Yet, He is understandable."
That says a lot to me. God is the mystery in the vast unknown,
but He is understandable. Especially on a morning like this, when
we focus on Jesus Christ. Yes. To all of you, wherever you are,
I have two words this morning that I want to give you right up
front, and that's a promise that if you accept the decision to
become a believer, even though you cannot prove it with the senses,
you will be blessed richly.
is a good time to look at the God concepts that people carry with
them. And in this congregation, thousands of people, we're having
I think eight services in all today, but of the thousands and
thousands of people that attend this church every week and the
multiplied millions that call this their church because they attend
our church by way of the televised church service in 154 countries,
it's astonishing what a variety of God concepts are out there
and the heads that I'm looking at and talking to. For some, the
God concept is that God is actually a hangover in medieval superstition.
And it's part of the mythology that should be eradicated completely.
Now they would call themselves atheists. But I have to say that
I have never met many intelligent atheists. Most of them have
a negative reaction that is discernable if they could go into
analysis. Atheism leaves too many intelligent questions unanswered,
and produces too many other fresh unanswerable questions. It doesn't
make sense. Well it's a God concept for some.
it's not atheism it's more agnosticism. Well really they don't
know and they don't care. It's like the English teacher who gave
the students an assignment to write an essay on what's the biggest
problem in America today? Apathy or ignorance? And one student
turned in a blank paper and said, "I don't know and I don't
a third God concept, and that is that you don't know Him because
you aren't interested, because there's basic estrangement. A sense
that He is a hostile stranger in the shadows. That it's best not
to meet because you wouldn't get along with each other. He wouldn't
like what you're doing. So He'll let you do your thing, and you'll
let Him do His thing.
another God concept that I would call, people see him as a super-stranger.
That He's very strange. They have no impressions about Him except
that He's a global super-star of massive proportions. And He's
above the crowds of people that are the rich and the powerful.
The whole world knows His name, but nobody really knows Him, and
He's a stranger. You never shook His hand. You never will, you'll
never see Him in person, you never expect to. Just a global celebrity
of the highest rank.
God concept is that He is a friendly stranger, but a stranger.
But He's friendly. He's like a neighbor who's lived in that house.
You've never seen Him, and He seems to come and go, but nobody
really knows Him. But the rumor is He's a nice fellow. And somebody
said that once they were having problems and He came across the
street and helped them and He was a nice guy. But you never had
to call out to Him and so you don't really know. A stranger, but
others the God concept is He's a nodding acquaintance. He's no
stranger. You've had encounters with Him time and again in life
when you were little and get older and every once in a while you
run into Him. It may be at a wedding or the birth of a child or
a funeral, or the ward of a hospital. When you think, and maybe
are looking death in the eye, and you run into Him. And you know
its God. You can see Him and feel Him in the hands of the surgeon
or the nurse.
He is the super-star and you're a fan. You'd never be critical
of Him. You think He's wonderful. The stars and the moons, the
handy work of all the centuries is spectacular. The more you get
involved in genes and chromosomes and the more you realize what
awesome worlds He has created. They are phenomenal and boy, you're
a fan. Not a friend, but you're a fan. God concept.
He's like the super corporate power chief. I mean, He's the Chief
Executive Officer, He has control of a little board. It's not
big. You're not on the board. Never will be. You don't know anybody
who is. You've never been to the corporate headquarters, but you
work for a company that His corporation owns. Oh, He owns, maybe,
10, 15. People employed, oh, 60,000 in America alone. Another
hundred and ten thousand in other countries. Top corporate power
chief. You've seen His face on Fortune, Time and Forbes. You read
His name often in business pages. You don't know Him. He's no
friend. But you've got a job. You're one of His companies, and
he pays the check. It's good. You get your money from Him.
He's like the pilot. You're on a trip; you bought a ticket; you
boarded the plane; you're in the air, and you've never seen the
pilot. He never came out and said, "Hello ladies and gentlemen,
I'm your pilot and I'm going to take you from LA to wherever."
No one announced that He's actually at the controls. You just
assumed that He's there. He's no friend of yours. But you'd sure
be scared if somebody came out and made the announcement that
they suddenly discovered that there's no pilot in this plane.
He's a warm personal friend. You're on a first name basis. You
talk to Him regularly. He knows your name. You don't need name
tags with Him. And to others He's more than just a warm personal
friend. He has become your one essential friend with whom you
could not live without Him.
Glasser, in his first book, "Reality Therapy" says,
"Every person needs one essential Friend." Oh, that's
the person with whom there are no secrets. Your darkest secrets
can be exposed without generating shame. Now that's something.
Intimacies can be exposed. No embarrassment. Dreams without accusations
and being on an ego trip. You can share them with Him. Your hurts
and your hopes, you laugh and you cry, and the two of you can
talk sometimes long and never looking at the watch, never timing
it. Well, your one essential friend. That's what Jesus became
to Thomas. That's what makes this Easter story so fantastic.
Thomas realized this Jesus was as he said it, "My Lord and
my God." No more secrets. No more doubts. "Blessed are
those who have seen and not seen and still believe," Jesus
said. Some of you see Him. This God, He's the master programmer.
said to me not long ago, we're on the edge of a computer chip,
smaller than a stamp, very thin and we can program six billion
interfacing connections. I said, what does that mean? That means,
he said, we can take in messages from six billion sources and
relate to them. I said, really? And I said, you know, for years
people have said they can't believe in a God, because the Bible
said, God knows every person alive. And they said that's impossible.
There are over five billion people on planet earth. Now we've
got a computer chip that can handle six billion and take all of
these messages in ten seconds come on. So God to you is the master
programmer computing to you. But you have to connect. You have
to use the code word. You have to get into it. Wow. If you tie
that in with Jesus Christ, then suddenly Jesus Christ can become
your one essential friend and all of life is going to change for
you, believe me.
And that will be beautiful. And then you'll know who God is. The
two of you will be bonded. Not a nodding acquaintance. Not a hostile
estrangement. Not a risky relationship. No. Bonded. The way Mother
Teresa was bonded to Jesus. She loved me, I loved her and one
of the great things was to go to her funeral in Calcutta. I was
in Honolulu when I got the call from the President, would I be
a part of the delegation. I flew from Honolulu to LA, five hours.
LA to Washington, five hours. Washington to Ireland, refuel, seven
hours. Ireland to Cairo, seven hours, refuel. Cairo to Calcutta,
seven hours. Added up, long plane flight.
Teresa knew who Jesus was. And she always greeted her sisters
with her hand in the air and they had a secret message. It meant,
"Do it all for Jesus." And they would raise their left
hand, open palmed, five fingers, and they were saying to her,
'we did it for Jesus.'
Jesus makes God come alive. The incarnation. The crucifixion.
The resurrection. It's all there.
I invite you this morning to become a believer in God as He was
revealed in Jesus Christ. On this Easter morning, Jesus said to
Thomas, "You are blessed because you have seen me and believed,
but blessed are those who have not seen Me and believe."
And that means me, that means you, it means all of us. We have
not seen the face of Jesus. We have not touched His hand. And
we believe. And today, it's Easter. He's alive. He is my one essential
friend and I invite you to make Him your one essential friend,
too. It's a decision; it's not a debate. It's an arrangement;
it's not an argument.
we will, we are, thank You. Amen.