«Hour of Power vom 28.10.2012 Begrüßung (Bobby Schuller) This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. Turn around to those ...»
You know, every great leader, every great speaker, every great teacher in history had a message. And the greatest one’s you could say with little reflection or thought, with few words, you could say very simply what their message was. If I said Martin Luther King, Jr., you would say well his message was one of egalitarianism and equality. If I mention Mother Teresa, you would say well her message was care for the poor, the needy, the dying. I mention Billy Graham, you’d say his message was repent, be saved, enjoy the fruits of heaven when you die. If I said what is the message of Dr. Schuller, my grandpa, I mean very easily you would say possibility thinking. You would say a message of hope and healing, encouragement. If you can dream you can do it, right?
Well every great teacher, every great speaker has a message that is their predominant message;
the thing that they’re about.
As Christians, we ought to know what was the primary message of Jesus, and I think if you were to read the gospels and study them and go all the way through over and over, you would walk away with one theme: the kingdom of God. In fact, you would probably say something like this: it seemed incredibly important that Jesus would impress upon His listeners that the kingdom of God is at hand, or the kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is present right here, right now. The kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven was a theme that had already been worked out. You can see it throughout the whole Old Testament. It’s the idea that God is working to set things right in a broken world; to restore everything and to bring into the life of the believer, a centeredness of peace, joy, fulfillment, flourishing life. And that the kingdom of God is the fullness and the completeness of this happening in the individual. Jesus comes on the scene and said the kingdom of God is present right here, right now, it’s at hand. It’s here. Today! He said people will look around, they’ll say the kingdom of God’s over there, and the kingdom of God is over there and the kingdom of God means this or that. And He would say no, the kingdom of God is within you, it says in Luke 17. Jesus says the kingdom of God is at hand.
And so we’re supposed to experience today a pervasive sense of joy, of life and above all, love and the presence of God. But most of us don’t really live today. A lot of us look to yesterday.
We think about all the things that we missed out on. We think about how things aren’t the way they should have been. We think oh maybe there was a relationship that if I’d just done this right or that right, it would have worked out. A job that was a perfect job. I lost it. Or a school I didn’t get in to.
So we think about the past, but we also dwell on the future, very often. We think about someday this will happen, someday that will happen, and when that happens I will be a happy person. Of course, of course you won’t be if that’s the way you think. Because the fullness of life and the fullness of the kingdom is not yesterday and it’s not tomorrow, it’s right now. Amen? The fullness and this is Jesus’ message, the fullness of the kingdom of God is not just something that you’re going to get when you die, and you will if you trust in Him, but that the fullness of the kingdom of God is something that’s available today in this very instant, right where you are in the monotony, rhythm, ongoing, day to day stuff of life that right now in the very, what you think is a very normal and simple and basic life, the kingdom of God is present and available in the midst of that.
There’s a story in Luke chapter 14. Jesus is invited to a party of it says a prominent Pharisee, who was a great religious teacher and Jesus comes to this party. And the whole house is filled with wealthy, well known, successful religious guys. Everybody admires them, they have more than they need, and they invite Jesus because now Jesus is kind of famous, you know. He’s a healer, some are saying He’s a prophet and they want to get like some clout and reputation.
They want to get some respect by being friends, you know, with this new up and comer Jesus, this young guy.
And so He comes to the party and it says that these prominent Pharisees are all sitting around and a sick man, a man with dropsy comes up to Jesus asking for healing. And Jesus looks around at all of these religious guys, who have said you’re not supposed to do anything on the Sabbath. And He says, “Is it okay to heal a sick man on the Sabbath?” Nobody says anything. He looks around, He said, “Which of you, if one of your ox or even your son fell into a pit wouldn’t go and pull them out on the Sabbath?” Nobody says anything. And then I love it. He says He embraces the man. He takes hold of the man in His arms with the embrace of a loving brother or father and heals him. A miracle happens. Something amazing, something that they should have.. I mean they should have had their minds blown. They should have celebrated that the kingdom of God had been fully realized in the miraculous healing of this man, and in the work of Jesus, but still silence. No joy, no celebration and we presume a sort of uncomfortable anger that He went against what they said was legally right.
Then all of a sudden people are fighting over places of honor at the table, all fighting for their reputation. Jesus is now starting to not fit in in this group very much. He says you know when you come to a party, you ought to sit at the tail of the table, at the lowest end, not at the high end, and they all kind of grumble at this.
And then He says you know at this table you guys are all religious people. You’re spiritual leaders. I mean your job should be about caring for the poor and the sick and the needy. You should have cared about that guy I just healed, that guy with dropsy but you don’t. You ought to invite that guy with dropsy to this meal. Still silence. He said if you were to invite the unwanted people, the people you dislike to this meal, you would experience the kingdom of God and you would be enriched with God’s goodness and the resurrection of the dead. And then one of these guys, another prominent Pharisee says to Jesus, “Blessed is he who will eat and feast in the kingdom of God.” And of course what this man is saying is that this man is saying I am already feasting at the kingdom of God, I don’t need them.
And Jesus says something to them, and this is kind of where He loses it. He tells them this story. He says there was this great wedding that a king is throwing for his son. Now of course back then a wedding was an amazing thing. They would go on for days. There would be tons and tons of money spent. I mean it was a big deal. To go to a wedding was an awesome thing. And they would have this incredible wedding and this king is going to throw it and he decides to invite all of his friends. This is going to be the biggest celebration, the most important, exciting, festival, party, whatever you want to call it, in the whole land. And he sends out invitations to all of his friends. And one man says, ‘oh I can’t go, I just purchased a plot of land. I need to go look at it.’ Of course this is a joke because in those days you would never spend money on a plot of land before looking at it. Then another man says, ‘oh I can’t go I purchased some oxen and I need to go look at the oxen.’ I mean back then, purchasing an oxen was a huge investment. You would never buy an oxen without looking at it. And Jesus is making a good joke again, you know, these excuses.
One after another they make excuses for reasons, ridiculous reasons why they couldn’t go.
And so the servant comes back to the king, he says all your friends have made excuses, they can’t come. And he says fine! Go invite the poor, go invite the needy, go invite the hungry, go invite the starving. And he comes back and he says we’ve invited all of them. They’re all here, they’re excited but there’s still room. And he says fine, go into the gangways, go into the streets, go everywhere you can. Invite everyone this party. Everyone is welcome now. It’s not just this group of people. You know invite everyone. And the question you’re supposed to ask when you’re reading this text is why on earth would somebody not go to that wedding? Why on earth would someone make an excuse to not go to the most fun, exciting, interesting, joy filled, money rich celebration ever? How would somebody make excuses for that?
You know what Jesus is saying? He says that banquet is going on right now. That festival is going on right now. It’s the kingdom of God. It’s the fullness, the joy, the life, the flourishing of the ongoing pervasive presence of God all around us that is available right now in me, Jesus Christ, is what He was saying. And you should ask why. Why would people make excuses? And I think what He’s saying is that many of us, especially who have grown up religious, are doing that every single day. That like the Pharisees, it is so easy to get caught up in the monotonous hum drum busy day in and day out things of life and forget completely that today is important and special and valuable;
a gift from God. It’s so easy to get caught up in paying bills and driving through traffic and checking the emails to forget that today is a special, wonderful gift from God, that the festival, the banquet of the kingdom of God is happening right now and you’re invited. And you are. But too often we make excuses.
There are so many things that can fill your life and distract you. Too many people go out to lunch with a friend and through the whole thing they’re on their cell phone texting or doing emails.
And too many people are never present. They’re always thinking about tomorrow. They’re always thinking about the next thing, the thing that is to come and not thinking about today. It’s always tomorrow. It’s always something else. It’s always somewhere later. And so they’re never present, which means they’re never whole, which means they’re fractured and broken.
One of my favorite delis here in town has this hilarious sign. It’s a picture of a woman holding a tray filled with beer, and it says “free beer tomorrow.” And so what happens is every day you come into the deli it says “free beer tomorrow” and so you think, oh I’ll come in tomorrow and get free beer. And you come in and it says free beer tomorrow. In this way, tomorrow, in a way, never really comes. That’s why it’s funny. Because all you really have is today and truly someday tomorrow won’t come. And we just don’t know when that is.
So for many of us we think about the next thing. We’re at dinner and we think about the errands we got to run. When we get to the errands we got to run, we’re not thinking about the errands, we think about the emails we got to check. And then we check our emails and we think about getting the kids to bed. And as we’re putting kids to bed we think about other things we got to do. We’re never present. We’re always somewhere else. Always thinking the next thing I got to do, the next thing I got to do. We’re always looking to tomorrow and never living today. The kingdom of God is not tomorrow and it’s not yesterday, in a way, it’s right now. It’s happening right now and too often we live these fragmented lives.
We should be people who joyously in the moment right now practice the presence of God and don’t allow this stressful monotony day in and day out of the things of this world to take away the life and the flourishing that God gives us.
I did this one time. I was with my wife, Hannah, and I was with my two and a half year old daughter Haven, and my six month old son, Cohen, and we’re at the Irvine Spectrum and we’re sitting around and they’re playing in the water and Hannah’s talking to me about something, but I was thinking about something else. I had a lot of things I needed to do the next day. And I had all sorts of work I had to accomplish. And then there was an awkward silence and Hannah put her hand on my shoulder, and she said, “Bobby, do you remember when Haven was Cohen’s size, when she was just a little baby?” And I said, “Gosh, it feels like it was just yesterday.” And she says, “Well that’s what Haven today is going to feel like in a couple years from now. And Cohen will be big. Haven will never be this small ever again and neither will Cohen. This is a special day.” And she said, “I don’t ever want to miss out on my kids. I don’t ever want to miss out on any of this.” I don’t know if she was saying this in a roundabout way, I have a feeling she was, but I felt myself instantly feel yes, I don’t want to miss a day with my kids. I don’t want to miss out on my daughter being a toddler and my son being a baby, and only wonder when they become teenagers that I missed out on their childhood, or wonder when they become adults that I missed out on them being teenagers. I don’t want to miss out on my friendships. I don’t want to miss out on my grandparents before they go. I don’t want to miss out on all of the gifts that God has given me because I choose not to live for today, but I’m thinking about tomorrow. I don’t want to be a broken person anymore. I don’t want to be fractured and fragmented, always thinking about tomorrow and not thinking about today. I want to be a whole person that is present. I recognize it in that moment God was there in my kids not tomorrow in the work that I had to do. Of course until that work comes, right? Until tomorrow is today.
God was there with my children. He was there with my wife. His presence was all around us and His goodness was right there and the banquet was set, the table was there, the food was laid out, the music was playing, and I was thinking about oxen somewhere that I had to check, I was thinking about land I had to visit and I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I was in the midst of a banquet, a celebration, something God had given me today! I was somewhere else, fractured, broken. I don’t want to be that type of person anymore. I want to live today because someday tomorrow won’t come.