02012023 – Matthew 5. 1-12

Some of you may remember an American preacher by the name of Robert Schuller.

I never much cared for his “SHOW.”

It was way too THEATRICAL, for my personal taste.

The best VOICES. The best MUSIC. The best “STAGE-SETS.” It really was a “PUT-ON” SHOW, constantly begging for MONEY…with just a little bit of worship thrown in – to make it all seem LEGIT.

It was actually VERY ENTERTAINING – a major production, of sight and sound, staging, and lighting, and constant selling of various items.

There would be actual interviews in the middle of worship with California HOLLYWOOD CELEBRITIES, including the then Governor of the State. It was all quite well staged.

And then, there was the Crystal Cathedral ITSELF, where you had to get a ticket and “pass an inspection” to get in. It was all for the “pretty people,” “exquisitely dressed and wanting to be seen.”

It was like a fashion show, of Who’s Who in California.

Then at some point, they even offered tickets to tourists to make sure the “house” was packed FULL.

I remember the movie cameras often panning the ceiling to show the live birds that actually lived and resided and flew over the heads of the congregants in worship.

I would smile and wonder if the people ever got splatted in the middle of worship, and if, they would ever show that on TV.

What I did like, however, and what I did appreciate was the writings of the man himself.

He was articulate and well-educated, and yet, he spoke plainly and seemingly was an easy read. It was a down-to-earth and simple message. I loved reading his books.

THEY were inspiring. But you had to weigh them CRITICALLY. And keep in mind, they were self-improvement literature.

He spoke a message of HOPE during the turbulent ’50s-’60s and early ’70s.

I remember books like “Way to the Good Life,” “Your Future is Your Friend,” “Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking,” “Self-Love, You Can Be the Person You Want to Be,” “Toughminded Faith” for “Tenderhearted People,” “Self-Esteem: The New Reformation,” and “Tough Times Never Last – but Tough People Do!”

He was like the GURU of “self-help books” of a quasi-spiritual nature, with NOT a lot of mention of God in them. He was clearly ahead of his time, as evidenced by the MEGA CHURCHES of today.

His POSITIVE SPIN on life was right up there with Norman Vincent Peale, who preceded him.

And then, there was this book that he wrote based on our Gospel Text for this evening. 

It was called, “8 Positive ATTITUDES that Can Change Your Life.” It was actually compared to the Beatitudes.

It is a bit of a reach to find anything even close to the beatitudes in this work. But he does highlight “eight positive attitudes or attributes.”

The book says many SEEK HAPPINESS in “WEALTH,” “FAME,” “RELATIONSHIPS,” and even “DRUGS” — and of course, they ALL fail.

How can WE be happy, Schuller asks?

The minister of the HOUR OF POWER then goes on to explain what he means.

He says he has discovered “EIGHT UNIVERSAL POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDES” that have been used for their “healing value THROUGHOUT THE AGES.”

And of course, the book touts that YOU can make “REAL happiness” TRULY POSSIBLE in YOUR daily life.

Like all of his books, they were sold during the worship HOUR OF POWER, and of course, available in their bookstore.

But there was “no money-back guarantee” if you were still UNHAPPY after reading his book!

In essence, what it said, is to LEARN to say, “I need help!” You can’t do everything alone.

Acknowledge when you are really hurting, but then, realize you CAN bounce back.

According to his research, the MEEK were the MIGHTY, the STABLE, and the KIND. According to MY research of the same BIBLICAL word, the MEEK was the GENTLE. An attitude of the heart that prepares for sanctification and holiness.

So, he says, when BAD THINGS happen to good people, they learn to become BETTER PEOPLE.

Learn “how to” ADOPT a “GO FOR IT” winning kind of attitude. Grab hold of your life and your dreams.

Treat others the way you want to be treated – the Golden Rule. And learn how to HEAL your own hidden wounds.

Become a bridge builder, make peace, and pardon others…

And finally, regardless of all the stuff we go through in this life…YOU CHOOSE to be happy!



And then he concludes by saying WE would probably ALL rather be around positive, than NEGATIVE people anyway.

So true to his form, he says YOU be positive. The cup is half full. Tomorrow will be better. The sun is shining somewhere.

Not much about God there…

Not much about Matthew or the second gospel to be written.

Not much about Jesus.

Not much about the disciples.

Not much about the sermon on the Mount.

But I get it.

This is for a watered-down audience that is into “self-improvement” and “self-betterment.”

And there is nothing wrong with that.

BUT Jesus was SPECIFICALLY talking about the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and a new kind of RIGHTEOUSNESS, a better way to live…a higher righteousness if you will.

Jesus on the other hand, would have preferred to talk about aligning OUR values with GOD.

Jesus would have talked about SHOWING OTHERS a kind of RADICAL MERCY and FORGIVENESS that the world DOES NOT show.

Jesus would have promoted an ACTIVE SEARCH for JUSTICE, and FAIRNESS, and EQUALITY, for ALL of God’s creation.

It is the entire HUMAN COMMUNITY that MATTERS, and NOT just YOU yourself.

Jesus did NOT seem to care much about INDIVIDUAL SUCCESS, but rather that ALL might seek God and his kingdom.

Jesus was NOT overly concerned about YOUR REPUTATION and YOUR HAPPINESS as he was with the direction that the world was going in…

And it needed TO GO BACK TO GOD.

Dr. Schuller was good for his time.

His message was helpful to many.

It was a “California-kind-of-gospel.” It was popular and supported by a great many, and I would imagine, continues to be, to this day.

When Jesus talked about BLESSINGS, he meant blessings from the MOST HIGH GOD.

Blessings from up above.

BLESSINGS THAT BRING LIFE and bring it ABUNDANTLY to those who walk HUMBLY with their God.