Love People (03 Feb 2008)

The Message

By: Robert A. Schuller

Special Guest

Denzel Washington

Special Music

Joyful, Joyful
God, Make My Life a Happy Song
We Are God’s People

Solo/ Anthem
Mark Schultz – Walking Her Home
Mighty Fortress

The Message

Message by: Robert A. Schuller

Our staff spent hours, countless hours, probably about a year and a half we finally concluded basically trying to redefine who we are as a church, as a congregation, and as a mission to the world. What is it that defines what our mission is and who we are as a ministry and as a church and we boiled it down to three words. It’s kind of amazing when you stop to think about how many hours it took to finally come up with three simple words. But they’re powerful words and they really define who we are all about.

And it starts with knowing. The first word is know. The second word is love, and the third word is to serve. And so we’re called to know God, to love people and to serve the world. And as we experience and embrace these three words, we have to realize that you could actually put them in a graph because they all relate to each other. Without looking at this I get mixed up so let me show you how this works. You can know God, know people and know the world. Or you can love God, love people and love the world. And you can serve God, serve people and serve the world. To know, to love, and to serve.

And how do we know God and what is it like to understand and experience God. And if you’d like to listen to that message or hear that message you can write to me and I’ll send you a copy of it. Otherwise you can go online at and you can watch that message or you can read that message, it’s been downloaded on there. The second word that I’m speaking on today is love. What better word is there in the world than love? What does the world need more today than love? A rabbi came to Jesus and said “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” And Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the greatest commandment. The second is like it; love your neighbor as yourself.” And here’s the reason why I chose this. Of all the information in the entire Bible that deals with love this is the reason why I chose these specific verses. And Jesus continued saying “All of the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.” That means, when He says the law and the prophets, He means everything within this book the Bible. The entire Bible, all 1,380 pages, all of them boil down to these two verses according to Jesus. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’m in a Bible study and we meet regularly once a week and currently we go through different books and different studies. Currently we’re going through a book by John Piper it’s entitled, “What Jesus Demands from the World.” And John Piper is a noted author in the Christian circles and a very brilliant man and he goes through I think there’s close to fifty chapters. Fifty commands that Christ gives us. And he of course addresses these commands. And here’s what he says about this commands. First of all he gives a word picture to describe what this means. The word picture is the throne of God in heaven and hanging on the arms of the throne of God are two chains that descend to earth and upon these chains are all of the scrolls and all of the laws and all of the words contained within the Holy scriptures that have ever been shared with us and those two chains are these: love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy mind. And the other chain is: what is it? Love your neighbor as yourself. Those are the two chains.

Then he goes on and he says “All of creation and all of the work of redemption including Christ as our redeemer and all of history hang on these two great purposes, that humans love God with all of their heart and that from the overflow of that love we love each other. It is the beginning and the end.” “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy might.”

And I stop and I look in that scripture and I say God I’m guilty. I am guilty of not having the ability to love You with all of my soul, with all of my mind, and with everything I am. I love You to the best of my ability but I know it’s not one hundred percent. And that thought haunted me when I read these passages, until I read another love passage that I want to share with you. It’s from Matthew 5. It’s Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Even tax collectors do that, even the pagans do that. Instead be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” And again I said to myself I am not perfect. It’s impossible for me to be perfect. I will never be perfect. And if I can never be perfect, if I can never experience the full love of God with body, heart and soul and mind and everything that I am, I am a sinner. And I suddenly realized how much I needed Jesus Christ. And I realized that Christ came to redeem the world; that He came to save me! And He came to save you and He came to save anyone who will call upon His name. So that we work and we strive and we aim and we do everything we can to be the best we can be. To love God as much as we can and when we fail and wherever we fail He comes along and He lifts us up.

I’ve used this illustration numerous times throughout my ministry. It’s a beautiful understanding of how the gospel of Jesus Christ works for us. For us trying to earn our way into heaven or lets saying trying to love God with all of our heart and our soul and our mind and to live perfectly as our Father has lived perfectly would be like trying to swim to Hawaii. I think it is physically impossible for anyone to swim to Hawaii. I think most of us would agree. Would you all agree to that? You hop in the water and you start swimming and some people don’t know how to swim and they’ll get about eight feet and it’s all over. And then there’s some people who can swim a little bit like me, I don’t know what I cannot swim long distances. My legs just start to sink. I have to paddle like mad to keep my feet up. So I paddle and I swim and I paddle and I’m good for maybe a hundred yards and then it’s all over. So I’d get about hundred yards off shore and then my legs would start to sink and let’s face it I’m not going to make it. And somebody else is a good swimmer like my wife. Man can she swim. She just swims back and forth, back and forth. She’ll swim for an hour, in fact she used to do that as a form of exercise, I’m going how in the world can you do this? And she just swims back and forth and she gets out and she dries off, she’s not huffing and puffing, it’s absolutely nothing! So she’d get out there and she’d swim for a couple of miles probably, maybe three or four, I don’t know. Maybe even if her life depended on it, twenty/thirty miles, I don’t know! But I know this that she would eventually get a cramp or something would happen or her body would wear out and she wouldn’t be able to get as far as Hawaii. But no matter where we fail, we put out the effort. We’re trying as hard as we can but no matter where we fail, Christ comes along in the life boat and He reaches out and He grabs us and He brings us into the boat and He says I’ll take you the rest of the way to Hawaii. And He completes the journey for us. What a challenge. What a challenge for us to reach out and to ignite the world for positive change! An opportunity for us to be able to share with the entire world the good news that Christ is alive today. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, and all our soul, with all our mind.

In the Second World War there was a man who had been separated from his troops, a marine. He was on a pacific island and he knew that the enemy was on his trail. So, he did everything he could to conceal his path and found a cave to hide in, in hopes that he might make it through this desperate time. And it wasn’t long and he heard the enemy coming and he prayed. He prayed fervently ‘Lord I put my hands in Your hands. I pray that You’ll save me and deliver me from this enemy, oh Lord.’ And as he came out of this fervent prayer on his knees, tears flowing down his face, he looked up and he saw a spider. He thought to himself, a spider, Lord You send me a spider. That’s all I need now is a spider. And then he saw the spider suddenly sink from the top of the cave and swing to the side and pretty soon he saw him crawl up there and swing to the other side of the cave. And then he crawled up there and he swung to another part and he began to knit this incredible web across the entrance to the cave and it became thicker and thicker until he could see the light shining off of this web that this spider had made. And it wasn’t long and the enemy came and saw the spider web and knew instantly that he wasn’t in that cave.
God answers prayers. As we commit ourselves as imperfect human beings, flawed in every way to make it a goal, a dream, a hope, an aspiration to love the Lord our God with all our soul, with all our heart, with all our mind. God answers our prayers. He redeems us. He saves us. Love the Lord your God with all of thy heart and soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. It’s the second. It’s the next commandment that we have to realize and understand. To love others as God has loved us.

When you talk about love and we look through the Bible, we have to realize that there’s a couple different forms of love. It’s an agape love. In Greek there’s actually three forms of love that is very clear and in the English language we have to kind of figure it out. For instance, I did a word search on love people. And do you know what came up? Some funny things. I’ll tell you, some funny things came up when I did love people. One of the things that came up was a thing on children and their understanding of love. And every single definition that came up about what children thought love was about, all had to do with relationships with other people, like husbands loving their wives and girlfriends and boyfriends and that kind of a thing. Well those would be in the other forms of love as we would know it. In the Greek, I said there are three kinds of love. There’s agape, there’s phileo and there’s eros. Eros would be considered sexual love, phileo would be considered friendship and agape is rarely used in Greek except for in the New Testaments, and Testaments writings. Agape is above all other love. It is the love of God that flows through us to other people. And this love is one that transcends all other loves. And this is the love that God commands us to have for our neighbors, for our enemies, for God Himself, and for ourselves. To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

In order to love our neighbor as our self, we have to love ourselves. And how important is it for us to love ourselves. I think it’s critically important. And I think the key to loving ourselves is really found in knowing God and knowing that He loved us so much that He planned everything about us from the beginning of time. That God knew as He formed the heavens and the earth, He knew this very moment in history, in time would take place. He knew that you would be sitting right where you are, just the way you are. In His incredible knowledge and realization, He knew what frustrations and challenges you’d be facing this very moment, as you sat here this very time. And knowing all of the sin that we have in this world, knowing all of the problems we have, knowing all the frustrations, knowing everything about our inner being, all of our families, all of our frustrations, guess what: He created the heavens and the earth anyway! That’s amazing to me. Knowing everything He still spoke. That’s love. He did it because He loves you and He wants a family. He did it because you’re significant and you have meaning to Him. He did it because He wants you to call to Him and to embrace Him and to love Him.

Now a man went to his oncologist. He was coming to grips with the fact that he didn’t have much longer to live. And as he was talking to his oncologist, a Christian doctor, a wonderful man, he started asking him about life after death. He said, ‘you know I’m just not sure what’s going to happen when I get to the next chapter beyond this. I just don’t know what’s on the other side. And I’m afraid.’ And this doctor said, ‘well I don’t know everything. You know I’m an oncologist, I’ve studied oncology and I don’t know what’s on the other side either.’ He said, ‘well if you don’t know what’s there, how can you feel secure and how can you feel safe and how can you not fear death and dying?’ And he said, ‘all I know about the other side..’ and all of a sudden at that moment you could hear scratching at his door. He said, ‘just a minute.’ He could hear the scratching and he could hear this sniffing and scratching, and he goes, ‘I think that’s my dog, just a minute.’ And he opened it up and there was this big lab, he came running in and he started lapping him with licks and the doctor is hugging his dog and his wife had just picked the dog up at the vets and brought him over to see him on her way home. And it was the first time she’d taken the dog to see him at the office. And he was just thrilled to see his dog, and just holding him and hugging him, he says, ‘honey I’ve got to go. What a pleasant surprise to see my dog.’ And this thought came into his mind. ‘You know this is the first time,’ he turned to the gentleman and he goes, ‘this is the first time my dog has ever been in this room. First time he’s ever gone through that door. He had no idea what was going to be and what it was going to be like when he walked through that door. The only thing he knew was that his master was in here. That’s all he knew.’ He said, ‘you know, I think going on to the next life is a bit like that. I don’t know what’s on the other side. But I know this much: my master is there. He’s going to love me and embrace me and take me in.’

Today if you’re feeling down, and you’re feeling like I don’t know if I can really make it through this challenge and problem and frustration that I face, I just want you to know that when the time comes and God calls you home as He will every single one of us on planet earth will go home. And we will make it through that passageway, that one thing we do know is that our master is there with loving arms, a loving spirit and a warm embrace.

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