Happiness begins with a new set of eyes.
Bobby Schuller has experienced enough loss and family struggle in his thirty-three years to understand that being blessed is not about glory, money, or fame. It's about so much more.
In Happiness According to Jesus, Schuller explores ten contemporary truths drawn from Jesus's Sermon on the Mount about what it means to live a blessed life. He asks:
How can I be a peacemaker in my relationships?
If God loves me, why won't he answer my prayers?
Is it wrong to be materially blessed?
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
How can I find fulfillment whatever the circumstances?
No matter how long we have been following him, Jesus wants to mold our hearts to his so we view life as he does. As Schuller writes, Jesus didn't come to bring a new law. He came to make us a new creation.
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About the Author
Bobby Schuller, born in 1981, is an American Christian pastor, writer, and televangelist. He is the grandson of Robert H. Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral. Bobby now hosts the Hour of Power television program and is senior pastor of Shepherd’s Grove church in Garden Grove, California, the congregation formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral. Schuller is president of the St. Patrick Project, a social services outreach in Orange County.
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Happiness according to Jesus
By Bobby Schuller
Worthy Publishing GroupCopyright © 2015 Robert V. Schuller
All rights reserved.
Happiness and Suffering
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the famous Beatitudes. Here Jesus is addressing, essentially, the issue of suffering.
Last year, my then two-year-old son, Cohen, started having seizures. One particular episode almost took his life. My wife wrote in her journal:
I was exhausted as I drove home from the hospital today. My mind was unable to focus on anything except the image of Cohen lying lifeless in the ambulance. I really thought he was gone. My body felt crushed in; I couldn't breathe. But he's alive and with no brain damage; thank you, Jesus. Thank you!
As I drove home, a car in front of me had an advertisement decaled over the entire back of the car. It was some type of ad about running for charity. The main photo was a picture of a little boy and beneath his photo it said, "In loving memory of Chase." I burst into tears. I couldn't stop weeping the whole way home. A mother had lost her son when he was so young. I kept saying to myself through my tears, "There's so much suffering in this world. There's so much suffering."
After countless hours in the hospital, the doctors discovered Cohen has a slight brain malformation that causes brain waves to misfire, which causes seizures. He is three years old now and I'm happy to say we've seen a lot of improvement. Nothing can describe the suffering that Hannah and I went through last year as we feared for our son's health and life.
The Problem of Suffering
Many of us are suffering. Some of us have lost a loved one, have lost a job, have little money, or have received a bad health report. If you are suffering, Jesus says you are blessed because the kingdom of God is made available to you. There are few things in this world that prohibit people from believing in God, loving God, or getting close to God more than suffering.
Suffering is the number one way the enemy tries to convince people to doubt God. The enemy knows the ultimate suffering humankind cannot endure is the void in the pit of the soul that can only be filled with God's love and goodness. The enemy knows that if he can cause you to doubt God and then be separated from God because of suffering, he's won.
There are all sorts of ways we can address suffering philosophically. We can talk about the issue of choice—that without suffering, there's no choice. Without choice, there is no love. Without choice, there is no meaning. My favorite example of this is theBruce Almighty defense. In the movie Bruce Almighty, the title character (played by Jim Carrey) is mad at God, so God decides to allow Bruce to be God for a day. And everything goes horribly wrong. Bruce gets all these voices in his head, prayer requests from everybody praying, and he's going crazy. So he says he wants all prayer requests in letter form. Instantly the room fills up with letters. Wanting something smaller, he changes his mind and says he wants all requests on Post-It notes, and he's covered in Post-It notes. Finally he says that he wants them in emails. His computer fills up with millions of e-mails.
He starts to read one e-mail after another. It's too much to handle, so he decides to answer yes to every prayer request. That's when things really get bad. First, everyone wins the lottery. But because thousands of people win the lottery, the winnings are split and everybody only gets about twenty dollars.
If we are human beings then we hate suffering. When a kid dies, that's a horrible thing. There's a part of us that says pain is bad, guilt is bad, and loneliness is bad. That part of us is the godly part. The very fact that you hate suffering is one of the absolute proofs of God. Suffering is against the heart of God. God hates suffering, he wants to overcome it, and he wants to use people to do it.
This is how Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is at the beginning of his ministry. He kicks it off by healing a bunch of people. All the rest of these people, many of whom are also sick and hurting, want to follow him because they're hoping he'll heal them. He's become famous for all the miracles he's performed. There he is, standing on a mountain and thousands of people are gathered. They're not an audience but a line of people who want to get healed. Some of these people have leprosy. Some are bleeding. Some are dying. Some have no money. Some are hungry. And they're waiting in line for Jesus to bless them. For these people, to be blessed means "I will be fed," and to be blessed means "I will be cured," and to be blessed means "I will have money." Jesus is going to heal these people. We see him doing that at the end of the story. However, before he heals them physically, he wants to give them knowledge of what it means to be blessed.
The word translated "blessed" here is makarios, which means to be happy, to be filled with joy and a flourishing life. These people think a flourishing life means money and health, and Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount by disagreeing with them. In his day, society considered the most blessed people to be the Roman elite or the Pharisees. The Roman elite believed in power and wealth, prestige and glory. Some of the people listening to Jesus that day thought, If could be like the Romans with power, prestige, money, and glory, then I will be blessed. The Pharisees taught that the one who is blessed is the one who follows the law perfectly. For example, they didn't believe you could spit on the ground on the Sabbath because if the spit rolled and collected dirt, then it would be considered "work." The Pharisees touted a hefty, soul-killing legalism. So some of the people listening to Jesus believed, If I could be like the Pharisees—if I could be holy enough, be super religious, and follow the law perfectly—then I will be blessed.
These people presumed to know what it meant to be blessed. So Jesus begins his sermon by essentially telling them that's not what it means to be blessed. Being blessed is not about power, and it's not about legalism. It's not about glory, money, romance, or fame. What is it about? Jesus will tell us, beginning with the Beatitudes.
There are two schools of thought about the Beatitudes. Most people teach that the Beatitudes are a way to live your life. For example, you should be "poor in spirit." You should "mourn." You should be "meek." You should "hunger and thirst for righteousness." This is one school of thought, and there is a lot of good that can come out of a study like that. It's usually a good thing because usually the way the study goes is "poor in spirit" means humble, or something like that. "Meek" means you don't push or insist on your own way. Those are good things to do, they really are. However, I'm from a different school that believes what Jesus is doing in the Beatitudes is not giving eight new commandments about how to live life. He's not giving eight new attitudes for powerful living. He's simply making a declaration to people who are suffering.
The first Beatitude is, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3). "Poor in spirit" means to be spiritually bankrupt. It means to have very little moral or biblical or religious knowledge. Jesus says, "Theirs is the kingdom of heaven." If you don't know anything about God or the Bible, if you have never been religious, then good news! The kingdom of God is just for you.
"Blessed are those who mourn" (v. 4). To mourn is to be totally overcome with sadness and pain at the loss of someone you loved and not having any idea how to cope with it. If you are in mourning, then good news! You will find incredible comfort in the kingdom of God, your home.
"Blessed are the meek" (v. 5). The "meek" are people who don't stand up or speak up for themselves, people who are overrun, the doormats. Jesus says they'll inherit the earth. If you are always pushed around, then good news! In the kingdom of God the weak will be made strong.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (v. 6). That word "righteousness" is the Greek word dikaiosyne, which means justice. Blessed are those who "hunger and thirst" for justice in their lives. It's the father whose daughter was violated and the guy was never caught. It's the mother whose son was murdered and the murderer was never brought to justice. If you hunger and thirst for justice, then good news! Justice will reign in the city of God!
Jesus is speaking to people who are overcome with incredible sadness and suffering. And he says, blessed are you in the midst of your terrible suffering, in the midst of your horrible circumstances, because the kingdom of God has arrived. Jesus is saying, "I have come in the midst of your terrible cries to God to bring hope and life, renewal and joy." Jesus is not saying you are blessed when you are poor in spirit; he's saying you are blessed in spite of being poor in spirit. A new day has come. He's not saying you are blessed because you mourn; he's saying you are blessed in spite of the fact that you're in terrible mourning—because the kingdom of God has come. Things are going to be made new.
In Luke 6:20–22, it's clearer that Jesus is talking about suffering people, not a new list of moral imperatives. Jesus says, "Blessed are you who are poor ... Blessed are you who hunger now ... Blessed are you who weep now ... Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you." Jesus is speaking to people who are suffering. He's talking to people who had been beat up by religion, people who were starving, people who were sick, people who had no hope. He's saying to them, "You are blessed."
My friend Dr. Bill Gaultiere paraphrases the Sermon on the Mount like this:
Blessed are you when you're spiritually poor for you can live in the kingdom of the heavens.
Blessed are you if you're grieving a loss for you can experience God's comfort.
Blessed are you if you're shy for you can inherit the best the earth has to offer.
Blessed are you if you're suffering from injustice for you can be filled with God's life.
Blessed are you if you're tenderhearted toward all who are wounded and needy for you know God's tender heart for you.
Blessed are you if you're pursuing seemingly unattainable ideals, for you can find God.
Blessed are you if you keep getting caught in the middle of conflicts for you can be at peace as God's child.
Blessed are you if you're persecuted badly for you can live in the kingdom of the heavens where there is a reason to jump for joy.
Who Is Blessed Today?
In Jesus' day, people had the same misconceptions about happiness that we do today. Who is blessed today? If you were to go around and read people's minds to get the honest answer to the question, "Who do you think is the most blessed today?" you would see, based on the way people live their lives, who they think is truly blessed. People essentially say that those who are famous, those who are healthy, and those who have lots of money are blessed. They couldn't be further from the truth.
Think about the way you live your own life. Do you live for these material things more than anything else? If so, you believe these are the things that make a person blessed. I hope you are healthy. I hope you are rich. Keep in mind I do not think it's bad to be rich, and I do not think it's bad to be healthy. Nevertheless, I hope you know it has little to do with the thriving, fulfilling, life-giving kingdom of God, which is available to everyone. We will all leave the world as naked as we came. What of our lives then?
All of us suffer. All of us have pain. All of us have guilt. All of us constantly go through change. All of us suffer loneliness. Jesus comes onto the scene to say to you and to say to me that there is hope, and that hope is in Jesus. There is this deep hole within every human being that can only be filled by God. If that hole remains empty, we deceive ourselves by thinking it can be filled with anything else. Jesus is teaching his people that filling that void, that hole, with his life leads to the greatest, most fulfilling, most exciting life ever.
Jesus is saying in the Beatitudes that even if you're suffering, you're blessed if you have him. Even if you're suffering, there is hope—you will overcome. Even if you are broken, even if you are sick, even if you've lost everything, there is hope. You don't need to give up. Jesus is saying, "You have a wonderful present—a wonderful today—in me because I am here. And you have a wonderful future if your future has me in it." This is what Jesus is teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. No matter how bad our suffering gets in life, if we have Jesus, we can get through anything.
The Message of the Beatitudes
The message of the Beatitudes is this: Even if you're poor in spirit, you have hope because Jesus has you in his hands. If you're in mourning, if you're meek, if you're humble, if you're persecuted, if people hate you, if people say bad things about you, then you have the unending favor, life, and love of God. And no one can take that from you. No matter how sick you are, no matter if you've been told you have a week to live, you have hope and a wonderful future with Jesus. No matter how run-down, poor, or broken you are, if you have Christ in your life, then you have a bright future. And you can trust him.CHAPTER 2
George Saunders, beloved short story writer, essayist, and professor, gave the convocation speech at a Syracuse University graduation ceremony. He began by saying that a traditional form for graduation speeches has become, "Some old fart, his best years behind him ... gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them." He said one of the best questions you can ask an old person is, "Looking back, what do you regret?"
Saunders said when he looked back on his life he didn't regret the horrible jobs he had, like being a "knuckle puller in a slaughterhouse." He didn't regret being poor from time to time. He didn't even regret swimming in a river in the Sumatra naked, a little buzzed, only to look up and see three hundred monkeys sitting above the river, pooping into the water that he was swimming in, and being sick for seven months afterward. He didn't even regret embarrassing himself by falling at a hockey game and flinging his hockey stick at a girl he liked.
Saunders continued that something he did regret happened in seventh grade, with a girl named Ellen. She had "blue cat's-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore." She chewed on her hair. She was very quiet and people loved to pick on her and put her in her place. She tried every day to just disappear and be left alone. Saunders imagined that she would go home and her mom would ask her, "Ellen, how was your day today, sweetie?" And she would say, "Oh, fine." When in fact things were terrible, and she felt like nobody loved her, and she just wanted to disappear. Then one day, Ellen's family moved away. What Saunders regretted is that he never had the courage to be kind to Ellen. He said what he regrets most in life are "failures of kindness." He didn't pick on Ellen, he didn't contribute to the nasty things that people were saying to her, but she never had a person in that school who loved her or cared for her. Now, some forty-odd years later, that's what he regrets.
I believe that George Saunders regrets he wasn't kind to that girl because George Saunders, like you, was designed to be a kind person. You were made by God to be salt and to be light (Matthew 5:13–16). And the further you, as a human being, veer from God's intent for you to be salt and light—the further you go into your own wickedness, selfishness, and anger—the further you move away from being the person God intended you to be, which includes things like being kind to this girl in seventh grade. You become, in a way, less human. The less illuminating, the less salty you are, the less human you are in the sense that you're much less than what God intended for you to be.
In Matthew 5 Jesus is speaking to a large group of people, most of whom are suffering. They think to be blessed means to have lots of money and health, or to be super religious and get everything right. Yet Jesus tells them plainly that's not what it means to be blessed. To be blessed means to be a part of God's kingdom. He says to these intensely suffering people, "You're blessed because you have me, Jesus. I have come here for you. And as a king ushers in a new reign, I am now ushering in God's reign."
You Are Salt
Then Jesus says ... to these people that they, not the Pharisees or Roman elite, are salt and light.
Jesus says, looking at these people, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the 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 underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built 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 others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:13–16).
Excerpted from Happiness according to Jesus by Bobby Schuller. Copyright © 2015 Robert V. Schuller. Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsForeword by John Ortberg,
Introduction: A New Day, A New Person,
1 Happiness and Suffering,
2 Salty Do-Gooders,
3 The Rabbi's Yoke,
4 Anger Is Like a Headache,
5 Missing the Mark,
6 Healing Broken Families,
7 The Easy, Honest Life,
8 Courageous Peacemakers,
9 Unstoppable Love,
10 Secretly Good,
11 Prayer Is Letting Go,
12 Feasting on the Spirit,
13 Spiritual Wealth,
14 Birds and Lilies,
15 Letting Go of Self-Righteousness,
16 Ask, Seek, Knock,
17 Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit,
18 Build It on the Rock,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A new and exciting view of the Sermon on the Mount, as Jesus giving us a vision of his life. Bobby Schuller breaks it down for us to understand in a way that gives us a new way as well as educating and causing one to rethink the old school way with insight and knowledge never given to these principles Jesus taught before. He does bring in the controversy long affiliated with the Sermon on the Mount but clearly brings it around to the truth as what Jesus desire is for us to live and learn. He uses great philosophers as Plato and Socrates to help support and explain for us to understand a parable of wisdom and knowledge. If you ever had a struggle with the Sermon on the Mount you'll need to get a copy of this awesome book, it's more than a must read, you'll walk away educated, happy, free and excited. With many new tools how live your life. How to deal with others, how to pray, learn about suffering and of course the Beatitudes defined. Find out if you are the salt of the earth and just how bright does your light really shine. And finally if your an angry person by 2 books one for yourself and one for the person your angry with. Bobby Schuller wrote an amazing book and you'll enjoy it once and want to read it again. I was given this book by Worthy Publishing for an honest review, thank you it was great.
I liked it because I like Bobby Schuller and The Hour of Power. He is a real christian.