Good morning. Great message for you this morning and that is that you’ve come to the place where you can discover who you are supposed to be. And how do you get there? And my message is My One Essential Friend. I want to tell you about Him.
But first of all, I want to thank all of you for all the volumes of mail and telephone calls assuring me and this ministry of your love, concern and encouragement these past months and especially these past few weeks. I have a friend who’s your friend, one of the great ministers in the world. His name is Tony Campolo; preached here not long ago. Remember him? If you do, applaud. He’s one of my advisors. Call him Schuller’s board. But he shared with me some words the other day and he said he wanted me to share them with you. They are directed to me, but he wanted me to let you know what he shared.
“Dr. Schuller, people are as young as their dreams and as old as their cynicism. So Bob, you’re younger at the age of 84 than the younger cynics who don’t believe in this ministry.” End quote. Thank you, Tony Campolo. Thank him for me.
Well, let me get to the point. My one essential friend. Friends. What are they? Well someone said years ago, it impressed me, a friend is somebody who loves you after they’ve seen you at your worst. That’s good. Someone else has said a friend is somebody who respects you, even when they do not agree with you. Very good. Someone else has said a friend is somebody who lives a better life than you but treats you as if you are better than they. Very good. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper painting, it’s so famous. You see this long table and behind it are the apostles and Jesus in the center. Someone made a copy of that, only it shows the long table, 12 sitting on the outside and Jesus alone behind the table saying to them, if you want to get into this picture, you got to get on this side of the table.
Jesus: my one essential friend. Why? For all of the reasons I define friends and more reasons, He is my essential friend. He is the only person who really knows me for better or worse, richer for poorer, in sickness health, till life ends for me and begins with Him.
My one essential friend. Who am I? Don’t you ask that question? You should. Our self identity is all important because it affects our behavior for good or ill.
So that leads us to a basic problem that’s in the human family and that is our self esteem. Why do people have such low self esteem? It’s a plague, always has been, always will be. It’s part of the human condition. Well first of all, some of it is cultural. You may be born and raised in a culture where your culture, if your family was not the highest in the social order. Maybe sociologically if you’d been a member of another race or another sociological religion, you might have been treated more respectfully. That’s true for a lot of people. For a lot of people suffer from low self esteem and it’s not infrequently the result of their religion. The religion which abused them from infancy upward with negative self images until they’re convinced they are sinners, which means to them, bad people. Sinners are not necessarily bad people. Sinners are people who lack the faith, the consciousness that they are human beings, created in the image of God to think, to create, to build relationships, to leave a better world behind when they pass on. That’s what Christians are.
So Christians become, if they’re sincere and intelligent, focused on how to connect with people that don’t agree with them. Wow. Yes, the church and religion has been responsible for the low self esteem in many cases. Because of the church’s belief in certain quarters, theologically, that the person has to realize how bad he is. They call it conviction of sin; has to believe that before he can become a good person.
I happen to believe that everybody who is alive still has within them, knowingly or unknowingly, showing or not showing, every live human being still has within themselves an image of God. And the trick is to bring that image of God out until it shows in the face, the smile, the eyes, the fingers, the hands, the mouth. Got it? That’s what conversion is all about or should be. It’s what a positive faith is focused on and that’s what this church and this ministry has been doing, now for nearly 60 years.
The bible verse I want you to hear this morning is Colossians 1:27: “Christ in you, your hope of glory.” Wow. We all want to be called glorious people. How do you become that? What is your hope of glory? “Christ in you, your hope of glory.” Oh, look at the faces here. Maybe not all of you but so many of you have invited Jesus Christ to live in your life, to be your Lord, your Savior. And when that happens, His name becomes the most honored name in your mind. When His life becomes the most respected of all human beings who ever lived, when that character as a human being becomes your standard, noble behavior. Wow.
Jesus Christ is my one essential friend because He boosts my self esteem. He comes to me and whispers you’re terrific. I love you, Bob. Let Him whisper that to you. He wants to. I love you. Drop your name. I love you. I respect you. No, no, no, no, no I can’t agree with all you say and do and neither do you, but we encourage each other. We’re better people because we know each other. That’s the message. Then Christ gets in you and Colossians 1:27, I repeat, “Christ in you, your hope of glory.”
Well first of all, He brings true emotional wholeness to humanity. Personalities. Ever read a book on personalities, the different kinds there are and why they are what they are? And what is negative and what is positive? Well there are a lot of books that focus on that. I’ve written a few myself. The real trick is your emotional heart of hearts. That’s where Jesus lives. Here, here, here. And that affects all of who you are and what you are and what you say and what you do.
Jesus, my one essential friend. I don’t know how far back that goes. I think till maybe when I was only three or four or five years old. I can’t remember anything in my life when He was not my one closest friend. Many of you have a testimony of not being Christians, not being raised in the faith and then getting converted and how your life was changed. I don’t have that kind of a testimony. My testimony is sitting on the piano bench with my mother and my legs were too short to hit the floor and singing the hymns that she was playing. That’s where I’m coming from. Jesus: what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief’s to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer. Oh what needs we often forfeit, oh what helpless pain we bare all because we do not carry everything to Him in prayer. Wow.
You’ve often heard me preach it and I’ve taught it and I’ve written books about it and I’ve lectured in seminaries on it. The human being was meant to be a kind of a creature so that when you looked at yourself in the mirror, you’d be proud of what you looked at. Never embarrassed at what you’re seeing. That’s what God meant for us and that’s why He created you as a person in His image, meaning you are the one living creature on planet earth that has the capacity to love, to trust, to create, to inspire, to be the living children of God. Hallelujah.
We’re coming from the faith in the holy scriptures and most of all in the life and teachings of Jesus. We are persons created to love, to trust, and to encourage, and to be the good news in our community. Yes, when you go out of here this morning, and you go back to whatever; your work or your family, when people see you coming, I want them to say here comes good news. Hallelujah. Wow.
You’re here this morning to be taught that every human being has potential; they’ve got possibilities. They may not believe it and that’s their problem. And you are probably the only person who could put the pat on their back and encourage them. Tell them how wonderful they are. Oh God, we all need that and You are the only person who can reach some people and give them that good news. Give it to them today.
Some of you probably aren’t walking that close to God. I don’t know who you are, but I read about a man who came in for counseling and the counselor, after studying him and listening said, I notice that you’ve had many difficult times and when you write about them, you always end with a closing paragraph and always starts with two words: if only, if only I had. I want you to stop using “if only.” Substitute the words “next time.” And when you share a hurt, when you share a discouragement, close it with the words “next time” because there will be more hurts and more disappointments and more rejections. That’s the way life is in a free society. Who do you think you are that you should be spared of that? None of us are, Schuller isn’t; nobody is. Next time. That’s why Jesus is to me, my one essential friend. In my guilt, in my sin, in my shortcomings, in my hurts, in my disappointments, I hear Him whisper hey friend, Schuller, next time we will. Yes, so He’s a friend. Someone who encourages me when I need it and I need it and so does every other living human being in this world.
So He’s a friend. I talk to Him. I fall asleep talking to Him every night. I often don’t close my prayers with amen; I close my prayers by falling asleep. My best, my essential friend. What a friend we have in Jesus all our sins and grief’s to bare. What a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer. Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare all because we do not carry everything to Him in prayer.
One of my favorite hymns, I memorized these words when I was maybe six or seven. Some of you may have heard them. Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all. He is my strength from day to day, without Him I would fall. When I am sad, to Him I go. No other one could cheer me so; when I am sad He makes me glad, He’s my friend. Jesus is all the world to me, and true to Him I’ll be. Oh how could I this friend deny, when He’s so true to me? Following Him I know I’m right, He watches o’er me day and night; following Him by day and night, He’s my friend. Jesus is all the world to me, I want no better friend; I trust him now I’ll trust Him when life’s fleeting days will end. Beautiful life with such a friend; beautiful life that has no end; eternal life, eternal joy, He’s my friend.
Let us pray. So Lord, now we know why we came here today; to be close to our one essential friend. Thank You, Jesus, for loving us anyway and always. We love You, Jesus, amen.