#140 (01/08/04)
Love Is Kind

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest

Keith Black
He was 17 years old when he won the Westinghouse Award in science. He was born and raised in a family where he can tell you, his father was a prominent educator in a segregated school in Alabama. And so they had to take him to Tuskegee where there was the only hospital where black women could deliver babies. He is now one of the world's most talented brain surgeons known for working with the most difficult brain tumors. Dr. Keith Black, along with only a handful of other, averages more than 250 such operations a year. That's an average of 5 every week. And his patients come not only from the United States, but from around the world.

Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
"In Heavenly Love Abiding"
"We've A Story To Tell To The Nations"

"Great and Glorious" by Cathedral Choir

"All Creatures of Our God and King" by Dick & Mel Tunney
"Veloce" Flute Solo by Gregory Jefferson

Acticle of The Message

The 23rd Psalm, which I call the most exciting chapter in the world's most inspiring book, that's the 23rd Psalm in the Holy Bible. It has been a favorite of the Jews in whose Bible it first appeared, and then when that became a part of the sacred scripture of the Roman Catholic church and the Christians became their favorite. It became a favorite in Islam and then in the 15th, 16th century in Protestant Christianity. So there is no passage of any religious literature more known and loved than this Psalm and honestly no passage has been repeated or read more often. And this morning we come to the line that says, "He," Christ or God our Good Shepherd, "He prepares a table for us." Sounds nice. Really, God has planned a meal for you. Oh, wait a minute. The rest of the sentence, "He has planned and prepared a table for us, in the presence of our enemies." Wait a minute. God, if You love us so much, why don't you plan a dinner in the presence of our friends. There are people that I don't want to eat with. There are people you wouldn't want to invite to your dinner table.

Most of you listening to me would say, "I don't have an enemy. Nobody's out to get me. Oh, I have people that don't like me, they wouldn't want me to sit at their table. They really don't like me, they talk behind my back, but I don't have an enemy." And there are others that say, "Boy, I have real enemies." Some of you listening to me hire security.

It's quite a variety, whether you say, "Well, Schuller, let's define that word 'enemy.'" And I'll say, "Well, that's kind of tough because people are all different and they're in different spots and processes of life." They'll say, "Schuller, have you ever sat down to table with an enemy?" "I have."

I can think of two persons that I would have considered enemies and I sat down at a table with food in between us. It was an experience I'll never forget. The first, was with the head communist in the USSR in 1989. The man who controlled anything and everything that went on television in the USSR. Top communist with the power to control what minds would hear and see. And the only reason I was sitting at a table with him was because Dr. Armand Hammer had written the week before to Gorbachev and said, "I am taking my television pastor to Moscow in my plane this week, along with his wife. And I want to sit down with the head of the whole minister of communications, Ladzukin. And I want him to put Robert Schuller on television, prime time, in Russia. And Mr. Gorbachev, I expect your support."

Now, eight days later, Armand Hammer, Robert Schuller and Arvella, are looking across the table to one of the most powerful enemies Christianity has had. Very interesting. There was food between us.

I can say God set that up. He prepared a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.
And then I think of the time when a powerful person in Israel said, "Dr. Schuller, we think you might be a good influence in a problem we have, and the problem is a man named Yasir Arafat. And we'd like to have you and Mrs. Schuller meet with him. Would you be willing." And we said, "Sure." And so we were brought to the border, then we had to step out and walk across no man's land, which was maybe five hundred feet. And not long later we sat at dinner with Yasir Arafat and his cabinet. And he looked at me and I looked at him sitting at his right hand side, and he said, "Well, what do you think having dinner with me." And I said, "Well, I never before had dinner with a person on whose head there had been so many contracts." And he laughed. He said, "I think that's true. But nobody's ever hit me yet."

And I think that was a meeting that the Lord set up. He prepared a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Both with the head of Russian television and now with the head of the PLO. We can look back and know that it made a little difference for good. God is in the business of reconciliation and redemption. Of course, you and I don't have opportunities to operate and sit down and talk to enemies at that level very often. But how often does God set something up in your life that's an invitation for you to communicate in a different way and in a different place and on a different level with someone who is at least an opponent. Someone who does not encourage and support you.

Well, should we try to define what the word enemy means? I think an enemy is somebody who would block you from doing what God wants you to do. God has a plan for your life. It's a dream, it's a goal and He wants you to capture it. Believe in it and when it hits you it'll seem impossible, probably because maybe in some instances, your father and mother would not encourage you to become a doctor as the parents did encourage Dr. Keith Black.

Maybe your parent. Maybe it's, wait a minute, maybe it's you. Maybe YOU are your own worst enemy. Maybe YOU are turning down the dreams that God's been trying to send your way. Maybe you are still hung up on failures and rejections and hurts and disappointments. And maybe you are losing faith in yourself. Oh, ho. You got an enemy.

What do you do? Try to sit down and talk. You know, let me ask the question. I've been asking the question. Are these enemies intentional or unintentional because a lot of the enemies that you face, and I do believe every single living human being listening to the sound of this voice right now, has enemies or an enemy. Probably 99 percent of these quote, enemies, are unintentional. They may be your friends. They may be a teacher. They may be somebody who doesn't intend to derail you and put you in a track where you become a failure in your marriage or in your relationships or in your career. Or in your life's goals.

Enemy is somebody who discourages. Causes you to lose your enthusiasm. Many of them are unintentional. When you are your own worst enemy, it's surely unintentional. It's not an emotional suicide trip that you're on. Well intentional or unintentional when God wants to create reconciliation and redemption and creativity, we confront the enemy. And He sets a table before us. And I asked myself the question, "Well what does God put on the table? What kind of food am I supposed to get?" It will be the kind of food in this relationship or in this experience or in this encounter that will emotionally strengthen you. To begin with, the first course, what He puts before you in this whole adventure, is something that gives you the taste of a positive perspective, instead of a negative perspective.

And suddenly, you begin to sense that you have exaggerated the power of the enemy. You've been listening to his, to him too seriously. We have an enormous capacity to exaggerate the negative thoughts that come into our brain. Suddenly you realize, this person who says you can't do it, or it won't work, or it shouldn't be done, he's not an ultimate authority. So the first thing you get is a new perspective of the power and the intelligence of the enemy and he's down graded.

The second course that comes, as soup follows salad, second course is you begin to think and recall and recount the friends you have. And you suddenly realize you have more friends than enemies. And you have vastly under counted your collaborators and cooperating colleagues. That's how I've gotten through tough times, I've had them. I'm not going to lay them on you this morning. But you have no idea how many times I have thought of you, your face and your name. And that encouraged me. Oh, I've got friends. More than I know. And I'll tell you without exception, you have more friends than enemies. That's the second course. It's food and God puts in front of you. And if you didn't have to sit down and eat in the presence of your enemies, you'd probably wouldn't be put into this position where you enjoy a third course and that's the sense of gratitude. Oh, I am blessed. Gosh, look at the good people that like me and pray for me and care about me.

And then there's the fourth course that He feeds you at this table. It's called compassion. You realize probably you've been the victim of an injustice. There's a lot of injustice in this world. I've learned that the past year. There is a lot of injustice. It may be racial. It may be economic. It may be cultural. But out of it all, once you have sat down and experienced the enemy of injustice and you ate at that table, you'd come away different with compassion for other people who are hurting.

Oh, if the first course was a positive perspective and then a recollection of friends and then a sense of gratitude and now compassion, WOW, this is food for the human spirit that is very nutritious.

And then you come with a main course. The main course is the pursuit of peace. Yes. And how can this hurt-hurt relationship be turned into a win-win or a help-help relationship. Is it possible? What did I have that I can lay on the table to Ladzukin in Russia? What did I have that I could offer Yasir Arafat? What do you have that you can offer your enemy? There's something and you look for what you have that you can give to your opponent. And you are starting a new thing called win-win instead of hurt-hurt. That's the main course.

And finally, by the time the meal comes to a close, and you bid your farewells and goodbye, you go away from that feast changed. You now become a true godly, sincere, possibility thinker. Oh. Now you have new dreams. Now you believe maybe you can pull it off. Maybe it could happen. The opposition isn't as strong as you thought. And you've got friends you had forgotten about. And even the enemy is now going to start to encourage you and it's going to open a door for you. You can't believe it.

And so now you leave with a big prize and that's a dream to be and to do what God wants you to be and do. Wow. That's what you call real super nutritious food for the human spirit. And you wouldn't have gotten that kind of a feast at a coffee shop. It wouldn't have had that if you'd just sat down and had dinner with friends. Oh no. It had to come through the challenge. It only comes when He, the Lord, prepared a table for you in the presence of your enemies.
Let's pray. God, it is marvelous. It is miraculous how You are alive and at work in this world. From the dawn of creation. Thank You Lord, Amen.

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