#304 - Message- Live Life At Its Best VI- Goodness (23/09/07)

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Music

Hymn
" Come, Christians, Join to Sing "
"Christ Be Beside Me"

Anthem
" Wondrous Love "
“When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”

Solo
PIANO SOLO – JIMMY FEDD - "All Creatures of Our God and King"
SOLO – JIMMY FEDD – “Pieces”

The Message

Message by Robert H. Schuller

My son and I are continuing our messages on the Bible verse Galatians 5:22. Many of you know this verse by memory. St. Paul writes, "The fruit of the Spirit ..." What does that mean? That means to analyze your life. What characteristics dominate you? What type of person does God want you and me to be to live life at its best? Can you describe your life in the fruit of the Spirit? Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Faithfulness? Gentleness? Self control? You can't go through a book anywhere ever written in any language, by any so called healer of persons; psychiatrist, psychologist, philosopher, theologian or social worker, and find in one sentence the positive values that produce emotional healthy human beings that comes close to the power in this one verse.

EQ is more important than IQ

Ultimately we know EQ (emotional quotient) is more impacting in the life than IQ (intellectual quotient). Your emotional health, more than your intellectual knowledge, will produce the kind of character you want to produce. EQ is more important than IQ. That has been established only in the last few years. So this Bible verse (Galatians 5:22) gives you the keys to living life at its best. Wow.

People were asking me this week, "Schuller, what did you think of the movie, The Passion of The Christ?" Well, Mel Gibson invited my family ... my wife, me and our kids to his studio months ago to see it in its rough edit. It was enormously impacting. We had our impressions and shared them honestly. Then I saw the movie on Ash Wednesday, the opening day, and I would say everybody should see it at least twice.

The first time you see it you are not prepared for it. You've never seen anything like it. You must see it a second time. Then the movie really got through to me in depth. The first time there was too much shock. And I've got to see the movie a third time, because as I have discussed it with my wife and children, they would share what impressed them and I would say, "Was that in the movie?" ... "Oh yes." ... "Was that line used?" ... "Yes ..." Who said it? ... I must see it a third time. It is phenomenal.

See how Jesus lived while He was dying

What make it such a profound movie? First of all, it honors Jesus. And there are books like the Da Vinci Code that do not honor Jesus. And there are lots of articles written by so-called experts, who may be theologians, they may be priests of the Roman Catholic Church, or evangelists in the Protestant Church, who are into a school of thinking called revisionism. Suddenly they act very intelligent, avant-garde and ego motivated, so they come up with conclusions and insights into Jesus that are pure fantasy. This movie of Mel Gibsons, The Passion of The Christ, is not fantasy! It is reality. And it tells the truth like you have never heard or seen before.

Maybe more whiplashes than Christ actually received, I didn't count them, but this movie honors Jesus Christ like no other movie I can remember seeing in my lifetime. And what makes it great is you will see life at its best in this Person! You can never judge a life, truly, until you see how they live while they are dying. You catch a glimpse of how Jesus lived while He was dying! That's pretty awesome.

See "The Passion of The Christ" and you will see Him at the ultimate crossroads. It is where you can relate to that. All of us have crossroads in life, from stage to stage. I am so pleased that the movie opened with Christ in Gethsemane. That was really the ultimate final introduction to the decision that changed the world. Jesus knew what was ahead of Him. He was at the real crossroads of His young life and He could do something about it. Crossroads are when you have to make a decision and every time you have to make a decision, you are making choices from options and alternatives. So the challenge in making a decision is making sure that you make the best decision. Oh, you probably know immediately what is best, but then are you prepared to pay the price? ... To decide the best instead of the good enough?

We are talking about what ultimately becomes the defining moment of a person's life that can qualify for them that beautiful adjective in our Bible text this morning. And the adjective is "good. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, GOODNESS ... That word is right in the middle of the text for good reason. All of these words come together like a recipe for life. Leave one word out and life won't be as it should be.

Paul doesn't say that all you need is to be good. No. He is saying you should be joyous, loving, patient, kind, peaceful, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. In the middle of it all, is to be "good."
What is goodness? What makes a person a "good" person? ... a "good" husband? ... a "good" wife? ... a "good" child ... a "good" student? ... a "good" professional? Allow me to sum it up. Goodness is making the best decision. It is not enough just to make a "good enough" decision, because often times a "good enough " decision is not the "best" decision. No. That is why we tend to move away from excellence and live life on the level of mediocrity. It doesn't cost so much. The price a person pays for uncompromising excellence takes an enormous emotional drain out of you.

My life has been facing decisions and always the challenge for me is making the "best" decision not just a "good enough " decision. Yes!

Now in the film, "The Passion of The Christ," people are asking me, "Well, what do you think? Who killed Jesus? Do you think the Jews killed Him? Do you think the Romans killed Him?" Nobody killed Him! That is the truth. That is why in the movie itself you hear Jesus say in a flashback early in His ministry the words from John 10:17-18:

"My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father."

What you see is not an execution. No. The Romans thought it was, and those who wanted Jesus dead thought it was. It was not an execution. It was not suicide. It was a sacrifice. What is the difference between a suicide and a sacrifice? ... All the difference in the world. A suicide is cutting out, running away, chickening out and leaving the mess for somebody else to clean up. Suicide is ultimate selfishness. My apologies to you who sit here and had a child or loved one who committed suicide, because they were under chemical control, but I have to say what must be said; suicide is the ultimate act of selfishness.

Sacrifice is the ultimate act of self-giving love

Sacrifice is the ultimate act of self-giving love for something bigger and more beautiful than you are by yourself alone. Who killed Jesus? Nobody! He made the sacrifice because He loves me and He loves you. But it was a struggle for Him. I mean if the sacrifice wasn't hard to make, it probably did not have much value. He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane saying, "God, not My will, but Thine be done ..." I as a human dont want to do this... "If it is possible, let this cup pass from me." (Matthew 26:39)

The only one who could make that possible was Jesus Himself. It was a painful decision. That is where character is formed. Where are you? Where am I? You and I am not Jesus. We are not facing a decision this week of whether or not we are going to make a sacrifice to be killed in a few hours. No.

But you are at the crossroads of life every day. So am I! Challenges. All of us do face decisions between good and evil. That is what we all face every time, and that is what you see in the movie of Mel Gibson, Christ facing evil. The way evil is personified in a non-gendered face is just brilliant. And in the same way, evil temps you and me. On the screen you hear evil say to Jesus, "One person can't die for all the sins in the world, come on ..." A little later, tempting him again, "And people won't appreciate it, will they?"

The negative thinking of evil is profound and it comes across that screen quite attractively. Well, you and I face it every day at life's crossroads, and we have to make a decision. One is positive, the other negative. Or probably both are positive ... one is excellent and one is mediocre. And then, this Bible verse makes it so clear. We have to take the long look in making decisions that will form our character and will earn for us the adjective, "good" ... he was a "good" man, or she was a "good" woman, she is a "good" mother, or she is a "good" child.

To make that kind of decision which produces those characteristics takes faith. It takes enormous faith for the long look to see where the road of goodness leads.

"Goodness by its nature is everlasting. Evil dies out."

Wow. Who killed Jesus? All the people who were there are dead, they are gone! But Christ is alive! One of the Bible commentators I read this week in preparation for this message is named Hastings and he said, "Goodness by its nature is everlasting. Evil dies out. Goodness continues to live. The more evil grows, the nearer it is to perishing. Hatred, revenge and impurity die from its own inner poison."

Goodness grows! It doubles and triples itself. It attracts the best people ... the best minds ... the best hearts ... the best characters ... so it becomes more and more alive, more and more dynamic.

Every good deed begins with a good thought, but it does not end in and of itself. A good thought becomes a good action, and it is repeated and grateful receivers enjoy it and pass it on to their friends until it becomes a mighty movement in uplifting humanity."

The movie doesn't end with Jesus on the cross. No ... it ends when you see the inner side of the tomb with the cloth that has been wrapped around the body of Jesus now empty, laying there, folded. That is the symbol of the resurrection.

When we decided to stage the Passion play in this Crystal Cathedral over twenty years ago, we put a great deal of research and study into it. The Glory of Easter is focused on the empty tomb, the living Christ. Oh, you will see the whipping and the scourging and hear the pounding of the nails, and see the three crosses rise slowly with the bodies on those crosses, but the emphasis is on the resurrection of Jesus. I don't think Mel Gibson would have any problem with that. That was just not part of the script that he was called by God to show in the movie. I applaud him for his courageous commitment to Jesus Christ. See the movie, then attend the Glory of Easter here at the Cathedral and tell your friends.

Life's Ultimate Crossroad

Today the real crossroads for you might be, "Do I become a believer in this Jesus? ...
"Do I become a believer that there is a God, an intelligent God? Does that God want to connect with me personally? Come into my life and shape me?"Are you at a crossroads? Make the decision only you can make. You can say, "Nobody takes my life from me." You are right. "Only I can give it up." You are right. So you live with the responsibility of that decision. What happens? Life becomes beautiful, unbelievable when you decide to be a believer in Jesus Christ. That is why Christianity impacts millions of human beings on planet earth two thousand years later.
This morning as I was sharing these thoughts for my message with my daughter, Gretchen, she said, "And you can remind people what Jesus said."

I asked, "What do you have reference to?"

She replied, "Well, He said God will have the last word and it will be good."

I asked, "Did Jesus say that?"

"Sure it's in the Bible."

"Old Testament or New Testament?"

She said, "I don't know. I think Jesus said it, not one of the prophets."

I said, "Gretchen, you're wrong. It's not in the Bible. Jesus never said it. I said it!"

Ill never forget it because I know how that sentence came to me many years ago. I was listening to the radio when a news story broke saying Oral Roberts' daughter had just died in a plane crash with her husband. Their children were not with them. The second child of Oral and Evelyn Roberts to die a violent death ... a son and now a daughter. I need to send him a message.

What am I going to say? I prayed.

I said, "God, what do I say?" And out of my fingers, holding a pen, came words on white paper. "Dear Oral, God will have the last word, and it will be good."

Are you at a crossroads this morning? Where are you at? If you do not have a personal relationship with God in prayer so that you can talk to Him and you know He is listening, that is where you need to begin. It is where the movie began. The prayer of Christ in Gethsemane,

"Father, all things are possible to You. If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done." (Matthew 26:39)

Start there, on your knees, give your life to God ... and guess what? It will be a GOOD life.
Prayer: Lord, I must make changes in my life. I want to become a good person. I want to make the best decisions at the right time. So, O God, I need You inside of me to become the kind of person that Jesus Christ was and is. Are You alive like Schuller says? Is he right? Am I wrong if I havent believed it? And, Jesus, if You are alive, can You come inside of me somehow, someway, meaningfully. I want to get out of the way, Jesus. Come in. Take over. Amen
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