#25Jesus Christ: The Door to Abundant Living Now and Forever (18/05/02)

By Robert H. Schuller

My son and I are delivering a series of messages on the great "I Am's" of Jesus Christ. And this morning I am speaking on the text from John 10:9-10:

"I am the door ... I have come that you might have life abundantly."

Why am I attracted to programs that offer success to people by motivating them to achieve more in life? I'm driven by Jesus Christ who came that we might have life abundantly. Jesus Christ promoted prosperity and abundance, not poverty. And that's good news. I'm proud to belong to an organization called the Horatio Alger Association. There are 263 living persons in the United States who are members. One is Colin Powell who was supposed to be with us, but he was on his peace mission to Jerusalem.

The power people of America in corporate law plus the entertainment industry are members of this organization. It's great to meet these high achievers and noble thinking people. It's very exciting. The Horatio Alger Association was founded by Norman Vincent Peale and has its roots in the teachings of Jesus Christ. I've been on the board now for about nine years. In the spirit of Jesus Christ, we raise college scholarship money, and today Horatio Alger has the largest scholarship fund in the world to give to needy high school graduates. This year we hosted 109 graduating seniors from the 50 states. We flew them to Washington DC where they enjoyed three days with us in success forums at the impressive capitol buildings such as the Supreme Court. Each was given clothes for the big night celebration, formal gowns for the girls and tuxedos for the boys. Horatio Alger scholarships are not necessarily given to the best or the brightest students, but we look for those who have a dream and a goal, who want to accomplish something noble for society, but who have no resources at all.

And I want to give you a little glimpse of some of these kids, because today I want you to learn that you can be a Super Success ... if you will open the door to the greatest possibilities that God puts before you every day.

Sitting at my table for lunch was a beautiful young girl, 16 years old. And she wanted to go to college but didn't have a chance. Now she's going because of her scholarship. I said, "Tell me your story."

Well, she said, "It's not a very nice story."

I answered, "Most of the stories here are not nice but we're here to open doors for you so you can have a great future.

She said, "Thank you." Then she began quietly and calmly to share her story. "My father and mother were into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol. They met that way. Then they had a couple of kids and I'm the oldest. One day my dad committed suicide and two weeks later my mom said to me, 'I've had enough of a family. I'm leaving. You take care of yourself and your kid brother.' ... And she was gone. Shortly after, a lawyer came to the door. My dad had left money in his will and left it all to me and my kid brother. Not to my mother. When she heard about that, she came back home and said, 'It's my money.' So at the age of 14 I had to hire a lawyer and go to court against my mother." With tears in her eyes, she continued, "It was a terrible experience I spent all of the money on lawyers." But with eyes glistening through tears, she said, "But I decided I'm going to be somebody. Thanks to your scholarship, I'm going to college to become a doctor."

Wow! Goals, dreams, commitments, decisions ... from somebody who has every reason in the world to say, "I can't make it. Don't talk to me."

Then another girl, from a pitiful part of a great city in America told us how she was born, raised, and lived with her three brothers and her mother ... no father ... in the gang territory of that city. Her oldest brother was murdered. Her second oldest brother committed suicide. Her third oldest brother was murdered. That left only her and her mom. And her mom was an alcoholic. There are dysfunctional families in America and too many kids have to grow up in that kind of a mess. But there is an open door. There is the freedom of faith in the words of Jesus Christ:

"I am the Door ... by Me if any person enters in, he will be saved. I will nourish and feed them ... I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:9 & 10)

That's what this ministry is about. That's what this church is about. We lead you to Jesus Christ, who is alive and He knocks at the door of our life and invites us to come to Him.

Why is it that a lot of people are afraid of doors? They are afraid that they might get involved and then they might fail. And so insecure and intimidated they play it safe and stay away from the open doors.

I have been guilty of that. When I came to California to start this church I was 28 years old and my wife was the only member. I decided to ring doorbells to find people who were looking for hope, faith and enthusiastic, abundant living. I had something to share with them. So I rang 3,500 doorbells the first year. Homes were being built where orange groves had stood and most of these homes were built by a rich man, named Harry Rinker.

One day I found myself on a side street with really big houses. Much bigger than the other houses which were like mine. Our house was a cheap house which we bought for $8,600 and where we lived for many years. But as I walked down this street to the first big house, and to that door, guess what ... the house had two doors right next to each other with a big round brass knob on each door ... and only one doorbell. And I was intimidated. Whoever lived there was powerful. Whoever lived there was rich. I was poor. I wasn't in that league. I didn't dare to meet whoever had such wealth and power. I didn't dare to touch the doorbell. I even prayed a little prayer, "God push my elbow," but He didn't. So I turned and walked away. Later, I learned that was where Harry Rinker, the homebuilder, lived.

The following Sunday I climbed up on the snack bar rooftop of the drive-in theater and preached to a few people in their cars as I focused on my dream to build the kind of a church that I thought God would want. First, I needed to buy land, and I was thinking big. I saw a 20 acre orange grove next to where Walt Disney was building Disneyland. And I asked, "Who owns that 20 acre orange grove?" And I heard the reply, "Oh, a homebuilder named Harry Rinker." That was the big house where I did not dare to ring the doorbell, but now I had an address of Harry Rinker's office. This time I wasn't intimidated. I walked right in the open door of his office where he met me and asked, "What can I do for you?"

I said, "Well," pointing to a map of the area, "I'm interested in buying that 20 acres of orange trees."

He said, "You are? What's your name?"

I said, "Robert Schuller."

"What do you want to do with it?

I said, "I want to build a church on it."

"Oh, you do? You have a church now?"

I said, "Sort of, I preach in the Orange drive-in theater every Sunday."

"You what? You preach in the Orange drive-in theater? And you want 20 acres of orange trees?"


He laughed as he said, "Well, it's expensive."

I asked, "How much?"

He said, "Six thousand an acre. How much money do you have?"

I said, "I don't have any."

And politely, he said, "Goodbye."

So Harry Rinker went his way and I went mine. He got richer and richer. Would you believe that he was at the Horatio Alger Scholarship meeting this past week? And on the plane home from Washington DC to Los Angeles, who should sit right next to me for five hours but Harry Rinker. And did we ever have a good time. He said, "I have to tell you, I never forgot how you came and talked to me about that 20 acre orange grove. When you left I said to my partner, 'Wow, California's got them all doesn't it!'"

Now, 45 years later, Harry Rinker is amazed at the church we have built on 40 acres of land. Hallelujah!

"I am the door, if anyone enters in, he shall be saved." (John 10:9)

Jesus is in the business of saving people. Saving them from self-doubt. Saving them from personal negative thinking such as, "I can't do it ... I'm too young ... I'm too old ... or ... I'm too poor ... I'm not rich enough ... or ... I don't know the right people." Listen! Who opens doors for you? Jesus does. He does it for me. And that's my message to you. I believe Jesus Christ is alive. I believe He has a plan for your life. I think it's bigger than you think it is. I think it will happen if you never give up. The only person who can defeat your dream is you, if you walk away from it. Jesus Christ is the open door who promises to give you the emotional energy to keep going and never fail. And He protects you from never quitting. Get a dream ... go for it ... and commit your life to never give up.

"I am the door..." What does Jesus mean? Jesus takes this illustration from the shepherds in the Holy Land who build fences in circles about forty inches high with a small gap big enough for an entryway for the sheep. At the end of the day the shepherd takes the sheep through the entryway, counting them as they go in. Then the shepherd sits in that open space to protect his sheep so they do not run out and get lost. And he protects them from wild wolves that might come in to attack them.

Ancient history in the Middle East tells about the first doors invented by the Greeks, which didn't have hinges. They had a pivot at the bottom and a pivot at the top and that would cause the door to swing open and shut. They made them out of bronze, and at Baalbek I've seen the huge bronze door, 20-30 feet high. It's enormous. It is a masterful work of art. There are all kinds of doors today, doors on hinges, doors on pivots, doors that slide, and doors that drop down and rise up, but of all the doors, Jesus says, "I am the Door!" And He meant that He was like a shepherd sitting just inside that open space. Jesus, our Shepherd, protects us. He is committed to that. He loves us. That's the kind of Savior we have ...

"I am the Door. By ME if any one enters in, he shall be saved." (John 10:9)

When we leave this earth into eternity, we don't have to worry. Jesus Christ is ahead of us and He is our friend. We are saved ... and ... Jesus Christ provides what we need when we need it. It is astonishing to me how His help always come without fail. Christians believe that every time God closes one door, He opens another one. And so He guides us. If we get on the wrong track He will close the door and open another one.

For years I continued this church in the drive in theater as I looked for land to build our own church. Then I found a little ten-acre parcel owned by a lady. A real estate agent who belonged to our church wrote up a contract, sent it to her, and she replied, "I'm interested, have the Reverend come on Monday and I'll sign the papers and the land is his. I'm glad to get rid of it." I was so hopeful that the day before I walked into that orange grove, I got on my knees in my good suit in the dirt, opened my Bible (I'm not really that pious), but I opened my Bible, put my finger on the Bible verse, John 11:22: "Ask what you will and I will give it to you." Nobody saw or heard me as I prayed, "Tomorrow, God, have her sign the paper and give me the courage to sign it so we can get a church built. I'm tired of being in the drive in theater year after year after year."

The next morning we met her to sign the contract. She raised the pen, three inches above the paper and stopped cold. She wouldn't sign it and she didn't. God closed that door. I was depressed. But then shortly after that somebody else came along and said, "I have ten acres of ground, it's not downtown Garden Grove, but it's out in the open country and you can buy it cheap. That's the land where the first buildings of our Crystal Cathedral campus were built and that's where the Tower of Hope stands today.

God closes the door when He has a better idea,
then He opens another door.

In only 36 months this church will celebrate its 50th anniversary and I have seen God close doors, then open better doors. So today I still have new dreams for this church. I am excited about this ministry because Jesus Christ is the Door, and He wants our church to be an open door to people. That means, He wants you and me to say, "I am the door ..." How do we do that? Embrace Jesus Christ into your life and give your life so totally, sincerely and completely to God Almighty, that you will be open to His dreams and then become a door opener for someone else. The Psalmist says,

"I'd rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God ..." (Psalm 84:10).

I get much more joy out of helping people open doors to their dreams so they can be a success. That is what gives me such meaning and purpose in my life - yes, I have an abundant life!

I want to close by giving you a special way to pray today. Because today there is only one institution in the world that is delivering the kind of message that I'm delivering to you today, and that is the church. And the sermon I've just shared with you is not uniquely Schuller ... it is the message of Jesus Christ and the church is the only institution that shares that message with people. The world needs the church today more than it has ever needed it. And the church is in big trouble. I've had three audiences with Pope John Paul II, and I was at the recent small prayer meeting at St. Francis' Basilica in Assisi, Italy. Sixty Cardinals, the Pope and maybe another hundred people, including myself, prayed for peace. I was never in a room where I felt such humility. I almost felt that all the Cardinals and the Pope were weeping. That shocked me because I thought that the Cardinals and the Pope would fill the room with such power and pomp. Not at all. I sensed only humility. They know they have big problems. The church universal needs our prayers.

The church is in danger. The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is under siege. Can you imagine that holy place being bombed and monks and people shot there? It is very troubling. The church is in trouble and it needs you. The church needs Jesus Christ and He has only one way to get into the church today beyond the Holy Spirit ... and that is through people like you who let Jesus Christ into your heart, your mind and your life.

The church needs new doors to be opened. And I want you to say, "I'm going to be the door. I'm going to let Christ use me to save people who are lost. I want to give them peace, prosperity and abundant life forevermore."

O God, how thankful we are for the church ... and You made it happen through all the dedicated believers... people who share their gifts. I pray for the Roman Catholic Church and the problems it faces that You will give them the wisdom, courage and power to be redeemed from the problems that plague them. And I pray that every person in the church will know how important they are. Many are unsung heroes, or unnamed souls, but You use each one to bring Jesus Christ into the world. Use us when we go to work ... when we go to the store ... when we fill up the car with gas ... wherever we are, Jesus Christ, use us! Use us to strengthen the church that it can be the door in years to come to keep sending Your message of hope out so that anyone who enters in shall be saved now and forevermore. Amen.

HOP Privacy Legal  
Designed by: Ultragraphics Ltd.