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Light of the World

By Bobby Schuller

2205 2020-05-06

Whenever I speak to people, I always try and put myself in the seat of my audience. This, of course, is a huge audience beyond just the people sitting in this Cathedral; we have people from all over the world who view this program on the Hour of Power.

There is one thing I think I would do if I were sitting where you are: I would look at me, and I would say, "Why is this kid in a suit, preaching at me?" Clearly it's in the name of nepotism. I want to say to you that is probably true, and I will admit that to you. However, our God is a God of destiny, a God of providence and I guarantee that it is the spirit of God that brought me here, not my last name. I believe that, and I believe that He can speak to us this morning. So be gracious, do your best to believe that my faith and my message is authentic and true and from my heart.

I want to begin my message today by asking a simple question: "What is the church?" I love this building (The Cathedral). I love to come here and sit in the wings and meditate and pray when there is nobody here. I sit alone and think about what God is going to do through this ministry.

There's one thing the church is not and that's a building. The church is not a building. Neither is the church a service. The church is not a place that you go to get your religious goods and services. The church is the body of believing people of God who are called to something bigger than their own individual life. It is a body of people who believe that Jesus is resurrected and that He is alive and lives within each one of us. It is a body of people who no matter where they are from or where they have come from or what race or nationality or class of society; they come as one entity, one people who believe in Jesus Christ.

Jesus came and began His ministry in Israel. He was God in the flesh. John says, "In the beginning was the word and the word became flesh and dwelt among us." The word was with God, the word was God." (John 1:1) Jesus was the human side of God amongst us. He was God amongst us, a God you could touch and feel and talk to. Jesus had disciples, He had followers, He had men that wrote down what He said, men that wanted to be like Him. A time came when those men left Him because of fear, when Jesus was crucified on the cross. Of course we know Judas betrayed Him and Peter denied Him three times and many of His disciples who cried Hosanna only a week earlier, rejected Him on Calvary. We also know that after the resurrection, Jesus, a resurrected Lord, said something to His disciples. He said, "I'm sending a comforter to you."

Of course the apostles didn't know what He meant by this. I assume they thought it was going to be a prophet or some man that would visit them and teach them and take Christ's place. Instead we read in Acts chapter 2 what happened. The spirit fell upon them and something filled them. Before that time, they were simply followers of Christ, simply disciples of Christ, simply students. But in that moment, something happened and the spirit filled the heart of every man and woman in that building, and no longer did they have fear, no longer were they scared, no longer were they empty, but they were filled with something new. It was the spirit of Jesus Christ. They went out into the world, bringing the hope of Christ's message and the power and the authority of that spirit with them everywhere that they went.

In that moment, the historical Jesus Christ, who was only in one place at one time, became physically omnipotent within the church. In the sense that wherever there was a Christian, in some sense the presence of Jesus Christ was there. Do you remember in the story of Acts, where Saul becomes Paul, where Saul is converted on the road to Damascus? A bright light shines and knocks Saul off his horse. He looks at this light and it is Jesus Christ, someone he has never met in his life. Jesus is only someone that Saul has heard of. Jesus says something radical to Saul. Do you remember what He said? "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?" Saul had never taken a whip to Jesus' back, or nailed Jesus to a cross, or spat on Jesus, and yet Jesus says, "Saul, why do you persecute Me?" Jesus makes no differentiation between Himself and the brethren, the family of God. The moment you became a believer, and the moment you said, "I believe in Christ," the moment you were baptized, the spirit of God entered your heart. You welcomed His power, His authority, His holiness, His sacrifice and most importantly His calling to be in and around and over your life completely. You must understand this is what the church is.

If we are meant to be the presence of Christ in this world and in this place, we must ask the question why did Jesus come? Why did He come to this place and why did He come at the time that He did? Many of His followers, of course, believed that Jesus would be a military leader. They believed He would be a man that would raise an army up to follow Him, to fight the pagan Romans and bring independence to Israel. Often times, we like to put it in terms of how Luther or Calvin might have said it: "We are saved by grace through faith." And it is true, we are. I praise God for that blessed assurance; that I know I have a home in heaven when I die.

But even Jesus, though this is true, didn't put it in these terms. When Jesus began His ministry, after He was baptized and spent time in the desert, in Luke He begins by opening up the scroll of Isaiah and He says to them, "The spirit of the Lord is on me because He's anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind; to release the oppressed and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (Luke 4: 17-19)

Jesus came for four people: the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed. Jesus came to set them free. If we are Christ's presence on earth indeed, this is also our call.

On the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount, which is a summation of all the teachings of Jesus wrapped up into a number of pages and right in the middle, He says, "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden, neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 13-16)

Jesus, the Son of God, the glorious one, our Savior, says to you, "You are the light of the world! You are the light of the world! The salt of the earth!" As Bill, our Director of New Hope says, "You are the salt to make people thirsty for the rivers of living water." You are the light of the world. It is an amazing thing to think God says to us, "You are the light of the world."

If there is one thing that is for sure, it is this: the world is a dark place and it is getting darker. We, in the Western world, have been truly blessed with a great amount of resources and comfort in our life. We don't struggle with a number of the things that two-thirds of the world struggles with. In the midst, especially here in Orange County, California, of such wealth and such a safe place, we begin to ask the question "If evil even exists." You hear reverberations of nihilistic post modern philosophy where people who ask questions about language and whether we can even define if there's good and evil and whether even good and evil exists, and so we are tempted to define evil and good as something that's gray, something that can't be measured.

As we chat about this in our ivory tower, we look around the world and see in Darfur where 400,000 people have died in the last year in genocide. Two and a half million removed from their homes. We look to Thailand and other countries where children are being sold into sex trade. We look to the Middle East where kids are being trained to be terrorist bombers. In parts of Africa and Asia as many as one out of every three people, including children and faithful wives have HIV. We even look at our backyard of Los Angeles, seeing the homeless of skid row, and the gangs fighting and killing one another, and we have the audacity to believe that there is no such thing as darkness and that evil is un-definable and unrecognizable. I say to you my brothers and my sisters; I say to you we are light bearers. We are candleholders. We are lamp bearers; we are the light of the world. If our light doesn't shine, the world will continue to be a very, very dark place!

The classical philosopher Plato used a parable called, "The Parable of Plato's Cave." If you've had any kind of Philosophic training, I'm sure you've heard this. Plato tells the story about the enlightened man. In his allegory, you see a number of people in a cave who are chained to a wall. Their entire lives they've been chained to a wall. They are facing the wall and behind them is a flame, a bright light. And this bright light passes over objects that create shadows, projections on the wall that they face. In other words, their whole lives they've been chained to this wall, looking at flickering, moving shadows, and they believe, because they have been there their entire lives, that these images are the nature of reality. They believe reality is simply what they see on this wall, because it is the only thing they have ever seen.

One day a guy has his chains released, and he turns around and he sees the flame and the objects and he's startled because he didn't know those were there. Off in a distance he sees a light and it is dim but he begins walking toward the light. As he gets closer and closer to the light, it gets brighter and brighter and brighter and brighter and bigger. As he gets closer to it and as he emerges out of the cave, he sees something he has never seen before. He sees trees and the sun and mountains and a river; he smells flowers and sees a deer and is overwhelmed with the true nature of reality; the true nature of the world. He sees the light for the first time, and as he is basking in the warmth of the sun, enjoying a river, he remembers something. He remembers his friends that are still chained to the wall. And so he turns and he walks back into the cave, dark and damp and cold. He couldn't see clearly when he entered back into the darkness so when he enters into the cave, he begins to knock things over and stumble over things. He's trying to tell his friends, "Listen there's this area outside of the cave and there are trees and mountains." They have never even seen mountains and so this is just a new idea to them. He looks like a crazy man and so they begin to laugh at him and say, "What a crazy fool you are. There's no such thing as light." But some of them follow him and some of them follow him to the light.

We must recognize that when we are here in this place worshipping together, when we pray, when God does something wonderful for us, we are basking in His light and in His life. We are basking in the sun and we are basking in the mountains and the rivers. But the moment God calls us to go back into the cave, and to re-enter the darkness and we reject that, we ourselves become dark. We ourselves become empty, we ourselves become spiritual gluttons and that's what God has called us to. Isn't it exciting that our faith is more than just not doing stuff.

You know when I became a Christian, I rode the fence for a long time on my faith. My Dad is obviously a minister and a great pastor, a great man, a great model for my life, but I needed to make a decision for myself. When I was 16, I decided, "I'm making a decision for Christ. I'm going to become a religious guy." When I said that, this was interpreted by me to mean, I'm not going to do certain things anymore. I thought I was entering into a life of not doing stuff. I'm not going to get in fights anymore, I'm not going to be angry, I'm not going to pick on my sisters, I'm not going to cheat on tests anymore; it became a life of not doing things. The sad thing about this is at that time, I didn't realize God has called us, yes to be holy and not to do certain things, but there is so much more to our faith than that. I was trying to not do stuff for months and months and I didn't have any life in my faith.

Then I went to an event, some of you may be familiar with it. It is called "Acquire the Fire." It's an event for teenagers. A man named Ron Luce challenged all of us kids to go into our schools and love the unlovable and to go on a missionary trip and to help the poor. And so I did. I decided to start talking about my faith and I started making friends with all the losers and rejects of our school. I started talking to them and hanging out with them and I did it all for Christ. At first it was a sacrifice but then it became my lifeblood. Eventually, I went to Thailand where we did all sorts of ministry and now I'm reformed! So, I want to tell you as a reformed guy, I saw miracles. I saw a woman hit by a car and yet she was fine. I prayed for a man that was lame and couldn't walk for ten years. I prayed for him and he started walking. We saw the craziest, most amazing stuff. In that moment, I realized the call to live a life for Christ, the call to be a light bearer, was not the call to not do stuff. It was the call to live a spiritual adventure!

One of the best things I ever learned from my grandpa, since I know you're all waiting for me to say something about my grandpa, was that he said, "People always criticize me for not preaching sin; but actually, I preach sin all the time. The problem is most pastors are preaching sin of commission." These are sins such as don't lie, don't steal, and don't commit adultery and all of the famous ones that we know. Of course it is good not to do these things. But my grandpa says we have enough people preaching those things. He said, "I preach against sin of omission. The sins of omission are when God calls you to do something and you don't do it. When people don't believe in themselves, when people live empty, meaningless lives and they think it's because of God. I call people against that. And that's what I do, and that's what I'll do the rest of my life."

God has called us to be light bearers. You may be thinking to yourself, "I don't really know what I can do as a light bearer. It's a nice philosophy and all but what do I do with this?" Well, first you must embrace this philosophy and believe it to be true and I do. But here are some suggestions. Try and go on a missionary trip. There are a number of things that you can do if you just start to look. There are many ways that you can help the poor and the disenfranchised.

Or, you could become a person of prayer. Maybe you are not able to get out and actively or physically do something. You could become a person of prayer. You could become a person of un-abounding love! You could become a mentor! You can be a person who gives!

What I am saying to you is the moment you say that I can't do it is the moment you say God can't do it! If we are Christ's presence on earth that means His spirit fills us. It is all there: His authority, His power, His life, His imagination. The moment you say, as a Christian, as someone filled with that spirit, I can't do it, is the moment you decide to limit God. You say God can't do it. Don't say that. I believe with all my heart, and I've seen and you've seen as we've watched testimony after testimony come here to this ministry, how God has worked through a number of people that have just had a bad hand of cards dealt to them. We are the church, we are the light bearers, and we are the candleholders. God believes in us and I believe in you!

Let's pray: Father, we ask that You would inspire us to see beyond ourselves, to believe as a church, the closer and the greater we work together, the more we'll be able to accomplish for Your kingdom, to bring justice to an unjust world. Lord, we know when we answer the call from You to be light bearers, You will fill us with Your life. God, we love You. Jesus, be present among us, in Christ' name, amen.


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  1. kjwertheim writes:

    Excellent, excellent, excellent! Finally a positive possibility sermon once again presented with high energy & enthusiasm from GOD. Looking forward to many more messages form Bobby and his father Robert Anthony!

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    05/06/2020 10:12:29

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