Dr. Ed Young - A Broken Worldview
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America today is broke, and broken. And this is where we are! And therefore, in thinking about how we're going to address the fact that Washington is broken, and Wall Street is broken; the courts are broken, the schools are broken, the family is broken; how we get to that brokenness, I thought we'd better begin by a Biblical personality through a Biblical personality who was broke, and broken. And I thought immediately of the prodigal son! The greatest story ever told! And I think it was a real-life personality that Jesus was talking about. Here was someone who had a broken world, and he ended up being broke and broken; therefore, we can learn from the prodigal. I invite you to stand with me as I read this story. Would everyone stand up?
Jesus said "A certain man had two sons, and the younger of them said to the father, 'Father, give me...'" Will you say "Give me"? Let's say it resoundingly: Give me! "'Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me', and he divided unto them his living. And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted..." Say the word: wasted. "Wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there rose a mighty famine in the land, and he began to be in want". Say that! "And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would feign have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him". Say that. "And when he came to himself..."
Say that. Say it again! "He said 'How many hired servants of my father have bread enough unto spare, and I perish with hunger? I will rise and go to my father, and I will say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee. I'm no more worthy to be called thy son. Make me as one of thy hired servants.' And he arose and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, the father saw him and had compassion and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, 'Father, I've sinned against Heaven and in thy sight am no longer worthy to be called thy son.' But the father said to the servants, 'Bring the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and bring hither the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again! He was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate, to be merry, to have a party".
Everybody has a worldview! You say "Well, I don't know if I have one or not"! Sure you do! Sure you do... It's how we look at the world. A worldview is like lens in your eyes. You look through the lens in your eyes. You do not see the lens in your eyes. You look through those lens, and you see the world. And we all have a worldview, and this view in which you have and I have and how we see the world determines what we do, where we go, how we act, how we live, the choices we make. It is based on your worldview, and my worldview. And there are many classical worldviews! And we need to look at them and understand something about them as how people all over this world, including those of us here, how we look at the world, how we look at life, how we make those choices.
First of all, there is Christian Theism. People look at the world from this worldview. It's a classical one. There is Deism. There is Naturalism. There is Nihilism. There is Existentialism. There is Eastern Pantheistic Monism. You say "Well what's all of that"? That's worldview. What about underneath that? You can put New Age, Modernism, and Post-Modernism there under the Eastern Pantheistic view. And therefore, we have all of these major, classical worldviews as to how people move in every culture on this earth, in every nation on this earth! And we have to begin there. Every one of these worldviews answers the basic questions of life. The question of identity. "Who am I"? The question of origin. "Where did I come from"? The question of purpose. "Why am I here"? The question of destiny. "Where am I going? Where will I end up"?
All of these worldviews answers those basic questions. I want everyone to listen carefully! Teenagers, young people, adults, senior citizens! Anybody who cannot answer those four questions! Origin! Identity! Purpose! Destiny! You are not living a real valid life! An unexamined life is a life that's not worth living. So therefore, we look at these worldviews, and we understand immediately that we all have them. And we understand immediately that the prodigal in our Scripture had a very distinctive worldview. And we want to see the prodigal's world, the prodigal's broken world, and the prodigal's redeemed, rebuilt, reconstructed world. And as we look at the prodigal, we will see where you and I fit in the 21st Century.
We'll see where America fits in, because the problem that we have in America, if there is to be healing; it has to begin with you. It has to begin with me. It's not them, it's not those, it's not out there; it's every single one of us! And that's the reason we have to begin on this bottom level. We have to discover, here is a rock upon which we stand! We have to understand what that rock is, and we have to see that all other areas are shifting, sinking sand. What is the rock upon which we stand? The rock upon which America is hewn? And therefore, we see how we have become prodigals. Have we forgotten our moorings? And we're much like this prodigal.
What was the prodigal's worldview? Where did he begin? I can assure you it was a Jewish worldview. His father was head of the family. His father would have tucked the children in, and put his hands on them, and blessed them, and prayed for them every night. They would have quoted the Shema together, Deuteronomy 6. They would know the Ten Commandments, "Thou Shalt Have No Other God Before Me". They were a worshipping family in that Jewish culture, and you can be sure they had a Mezuzah that was by the doorpost of their house, being obedient to Deuteronomy 6. You know, going out, and coming in. And when they would go in, they would touch that Mezuzah. When they would go out, they would touch that Mezuzah.
What was in that Mezuzah? It was the Ten Commandments, part of the Torah, a part of the prophecy. Distinctively Jewish; perhaps they wore the hat. Perhaps they had bindings on their arm, phylacteries on their head. It was a Jewish family! The prodigal came up Jewish! He was a religious person! His father was the spiritual leader of the home. But then one day, he says "Give me my part of the inheritance". Now I don't know if in that culture that was appropriate or not. I think it probably was. It was okay! Uh, you know, "Dad-you're gonna die. I'm the youngest son. Give me that portion that is mine. Give me..." And interesting, in the Scripture, if you listen carefully, it said "The father divided his, the inheritance between them..." The older son, and the younger son. "Give me..." In our moment of history in America, a lot of people in this land, their whole philosophy of life is "Give me".
The prodigal mentality is now a part of our culture! "Give me! And not many days after, the prodigal son went in the far country", and we saw, here was the prodigal's world. Now he lives in a broken world. What happened? A famine came! Sound familiar? He began to be in want, and that's what happens when famines come! You begin to be in want! And it said "No one gave him anything"! How about that? "Give me"! But now when he was down, no one gave him anything... And he went and attached himself to a pig farmer! Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen! When a Jewish person ends up feeding pigs, eating what the pigs don't want, and living with the pigs, they can't go any lower than that, if you know anything about the Hebrew doctrine and belief! And then in that moment when his life had bottomed out, he was broken.
Now, you say "In his broken world, was he no longer Jewish"? No, I think he was Jewish. I think when he got there in the far country, I mean, I think he put that Mezuzah up by his door. I think he continued to quote the Shema. I think he would tell anybody, "Oh, I am a Jew"! But, actually, he divided his life! That's what so many of us have done! That's why we're prodigal. We divide our life! We have "Here is my heart! This is what I believe! This is what my, I, my faith is! This is my transcendent understanding of life; but here is my brain"! Here's on the lower... In the brain area, don't let the brain area mix up with the heart area! And therefore, many of us live as the prodigal did, I believe, in a two-story house!
The upper story is the spiritual things. The upper story is the ethereal things. It's the metaphysical things. It's the belief system. It's doctrine, it's God! It's all the rest! But the lower story is real life! That's science! That's truth! That's how we make decisions, and we divide that! And I think the prodigal did that! "Oh yes! I still have my religious faith, but down here, I am so rich, and I have so much..." He began to live on the basis of games and girls, and girls and games! And he wasted his substance!
Let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen! That's our basic problem! The problem with the prodigal, the problem with America, we have taken our faith, and they've said "Keep it up there! It's okay! You guys stay behind the church! Go to church on Sunday! It's all right! Don't take your faith and your integrity, and your God and your Christ in the market place! Man! That belongs to another dimension entirely"! So we live in a divided culture and a divided world, and that's one reason that we're in a prodigal society and culture today! Jo Beth is a real person! I can prove my wife is real scientifically! You can weigh her, and measure her, and check her blood, and her blood pressure, and her brain waves, and I believe scientifically, I can use reason and tell you that she is real!
Also, I can tell you she is real because of experience! I have experienced her, and because I know her is the fact that she is real through reason, and the fact she is real through experience? You see, we say "Experience is up here! It's subjective"! And "Oh, realism is down here, only through reason"! Not so! Realism! Realism comes through experience and reason, and reason and experience! Some of us will come to faith in Christ because we have seen the logical, positive, coherent balance of a Christian Theistic worldview. We'll come and say "This makes sense! This is reasonable! It fits in"! It answers those basic questions of origin, the basic questions of destiny, the basic questions of purpose, the basic questions... It answers those questions. Therefore, through reason, we come to faith in Christ.
And then after we come to faith, then we have that experience of salvation. Most of us came through experience. We heard the news of the Gospel. We experienced Christ. We received Him. We put our faith down, and now we use reason to understand our belief, and to have doctrinal understanding to develop this Christian Theistic worldview. So this is where we are today! Now, where does Christianity begin? It begins right where the prodigal had his birth, his new beginning! Here he was with a pig farmer, broken, health, body, religion, estranged, and then suddenly, his experiential world, his world of faith came down to the world of reality.
See, when you're down, and out, and lost, and empty, and sick and disenfranchised, and broken, and broke; it all meets, doesn't it? You can't divide it then! And in that moment, you have that wonderful phrase. It said "He came to himself"! That's what's got to happen in your life, and in my life; in America's life, and all the prodigalness that we're about! We have to come to ourselves! What did he do when he came to himself? Man, I love that! He got up! He got up, and he made up a little speech! He said "I'm going to my father". Well, his father is involved in all this, isn't he? He said "Father, give me..." And now in a moment of extremity when no one gave any, he had exploited and lost everything his father had given him.
Now he goes back and he says "Father, I have sinned against Heaven before thee. I'm no longer worthy to be called thy son. Make me as a hired servant". He makes up his little speech, but when he turns and he gets up, and he came to himself, as he's walking towards home, his father sees him. He didn't see him clearly; he was too far away. But the father knew his stance! The father had looked up that road maybe for several years! He sees that boy! He's coming home! He, he's limping, he's broken! He's without garments! He's just barely covering the private parts! He has no shoes, and he's coming, and the father sees him, and he's running!
It's the only time in the Bible you see God running! God runs when come to ourselves! God runs to the prodigals who want to come home and get back and stand on the rock from which they were hewn! And the father ran and greeted him, and he hugged him, and he kissed him! And his little boy, his son started to make his speech, "Father, I've sinned against Heaven..." The father just cut in the middle of the speech! He never got through his little speech. He said "Man, bring a robe for him! Bring a ring! He's a son! Put shoes on his feet! He's not a slave! He's a family member! He was dead! He's alive! He's lost! He's found"!
What a wonderful moment of seeing the prodigal's world rebuilt! The prodigal coming back together! And it's that kind of experience individually and collectively will have to happen in America if we are to come back to ourselves! Remember who we are! Come to ourselves! When does Christianity begin? Say, "John 3:16". Oh no, no, no! It doesn't begin there! Let me tell you exactly where Christianity begins.
Years ago, Jo Beth and I were going to Israel. We were on El-Al. We were on a plane in the middle section there. She was seated over here to my left, and to my right, I saw this man coming in. I recognized him immediately! It was Senator Howard Metzenbaum from Ohio. And Senator Metzenbaum came in and sat down right by me. Introduced myself, Ed Young, from Houston. "I'm Senator Metzenbaum". I said "Yes, Senator, I know who you are". Now he had no idea what I did, anything about me, and I liked it! And so, you know, the old thing that when they find out you're a preacher, one thing for sure, they should look at you and say "There goes a preacher"! But by the same token, when they find out, they shouldn't be surprised!
So I asked him all these questions for about 5 or 6 hours, eat together, etc... And then finally, I said "Senator, all the way through the conversation, you kept saying 'I'm a liberal, I'm a liberal...'" I said "I'd like to ask you, would you give me a definition of what is a liberal"? He said "Ed, I'll be happy to"! He said "A liberal is someone who believes in the Constitution and the bylaws, and believes in equal access under the law". I said "Senator, I believe that! That's exactly what I believe, and, and, and I'm not a liberal. How do you explain that"? He said "You believe that"?
I said "Absolutely! Fervently! Totally, completely! That's who we are. That's the contract, the Constitution. That's what I believe! How can I be a conservative, and you be a liberal, and we believe the same thing by your definition of being a liberal"? He said "It's because you're so open, and you're just open to any thought, or any idea. You have such an open way"! I said "Well, you know..." I said "I'm open about a lot of things, but a lot of things I'm sort of set, I'm closed! I've nailed it down"! And I said "Let me suggest to you, Senator, another way to determine who's a liberal and who's a conservative".
I said uh, "You're Jewish"? He said "Yes..." I said "Do you believe Genesis 1:1 is literally true? In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth. Do you believe that is literally true"? He looked at me, and he said uh, "You know, they found that guy in that ice up there in, you know, in the Arctic Circle. He'd been there for 5,000 years". I said "Yeah, I heard about that"! He said "You may not know, but in the Hebrew, the word 'Adam' and 'Eve' can mean 'mankind' and 'womankind'". And I said "Yeah, seems like I've heard of that before..." But he said "Ask the question again"? I said "Sir, do you believe Genesis 1:1 is literally true? In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the earth". He looked at me and said "No. I don't believe it". And I said "Senator, you're a liberal"!
That's where Christianity starts, and it goes to John 3:16. And let me tell you something. We have to understand that as Christians, we're going to be swimming upstream in a broken world. We have to make sure that we are not broken world people, and it begins with coming to faith in Jesus Christ, and living it with a life of faithfulness! Now, you see, America is like Humpty Dumpty! Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall! We were Humpty Dumpty! We had the energy, the creativity, the free enterprise system! We were at the top of everything and everybody! We were aggressive! We were moving! We were taking people from all over the world and bringing them together, and they became Americans together! They learned our language together! We became one together, and God did a tremendous work because the moorings of our nation is based on Biblical principles!
You just cannot deny it! It is there! It is who we are! It is our identity! And there we are together, on that wall! God blessing us, doing us, doing tremendous things; but we've had a great fall, and we're still falling! Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall! Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, because Humpty Dumpty America, you and I, we are broke, and we live in a broken culture, and many of our lives are the story of brokenness. Now the bottom line is, in the nursery rhyme, which by the way was about Richard the Third. It was a way they could attack the king without him knowing it. Said "All the king's army, and all the king's men couldn't put humpty dumpty back together again"!
That's the question, is it not? All the king's army, all the king's men, all the politicians, all the lawyers, all the doctors, all the culture, all the marketplace, we can't put Humpty Dumpty back together again! Our America! Only God in Christ can do that as we move from being prodigals as we go back to the house of our Father! That's what it's going to take! It's going to take a Supernatural act to put ole' Humpty together, because he's broken, and we are a broken people who live in a broken culture, and that's where we have to begin, to make sure you and I are not really a part of the problem; that we're really a part of the solution. And so many of I's, us who talk about it-we think we're a part of the solution; but because of our lack of faithfulness, we're really a part of the problem. And our prayer is, "Lord, heal our land, beginning with me, and beginning with you"!