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Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Politics

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    Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Politics
    Dr. Ed Young - The Idol of Politics
TOPICS: idolatry, Politics

From 1892 to 1934, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty right in the middle of it, was the port of entry for people who came from all over the world. Little plaque there, "Bring me your huddled masses," and the rest of it, "yearning to breathe free". Many of us here who are, we can trace our ancestry back a hundred or two years. I can't do that. I can't do that. Much more recent than that in my family. But some here can. And our forefathers came through Ellis Island and that was what they thought, that's what they imagined. They wanted to breathe freedom. Some who've come to America recently, you have known what it is to live in a country where you cannot breathe freedom and you are still thrilled with the fact that here's a place where we can breathe freedom.

That's the genius of our land. But today, we understand our freedom is being jeopardized in so many, many areas. So we have an overwhelming responsibility and call at this moment in history, this moment in time. It's amazing to me how we as Christians have been so strategically placed in the world where there is so much need and hunger and want and emptiness and pain and sorrow and so many conflicts and so much brokenness, isn't it wonderful that we have been placed in a place where we can make a difference? That's a thrilling thing to think about. A thrilling concept to lay hold of. And so we have this opportunity today, like never before in history to make a kingdom difference. But we have to have the qualification and understanding of what our Scripture's gonna teach us and that is what it means to be a neighbor.

And I want you to look in Luke chapter number 10. Jesus is in Judea in all probability. And verse 25 says, "And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test". A lawyer stood up. Can you imagine that? Jesus was seated. Everybody was seated. And this lawyer stood up, a religious lawyer, they lived in a theocracy. And he put Jesus to the test. It's interesting, a student asked the teacher, "Why is it when I asked you a question, you always answer the question I'm asking you by asking me a question"? And the rabbi said, "Well, why do you think I do that"? This is the methodology that's involved, the Socratic method that's involved right here. You see a Q&A session. Look at it, if you would. "But the lawyer stood up and put Jesus to the test, saying, 'Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'"

It was a trick question. He was trying to trap Jesus. He was trying to trick Jesus. He was setting the framework for the argument, the debate, he was going to get in with Jesus, he hoped, because he was a lawyer, a student of the law. And notice how Jesus answered him, with a question. Ain't that interesting? Jesus says, "And He said to him," verse 26, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to you? 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?'" Jesus said, "Well, what does the law say"? Now, Jesus had two approaches he could have given to this lawyer. He could have used the approach in saying, "Well, Abraham teaches us that everybody automatically has eternal life because they're a descendant of Abraham. You're a Jew, eternal life. It's a gift".

But Jesus didn't pursue that because it was a legal lawyer and so he pursued the answer along the line of law. He said, "Well, what do you see"? And this lawyer quoted two passage of Scripture. He took the Shema, Deuteronomy 6, and Leviticus 19 and he put them together and he said, "Number one, if you wanna have eternal life, this is what you do. You love the Lord thy God with all your heart," that's your emotions. "Love the Lord thy God with all your soul". What is your soul? Genesis chapter 2. That is when God breathed into Adam, the breath of life and he received the image of God. The soul is the you. The soul is that voice in you. The soul is your identity. The soul is my distinctive identity.

So he says, "You want eternity? Love God with all your emotions, love God with all of your soul, your identity, that little voice, that little you that's you and that little me that's me, with all your soul, and with all your strength. All your physicality, everything you got, where you go, you move. And love him with all your mind. That's the first thing you do, you want eternal life". Mm. Then he said, "Then love your neighbor the way you love yourself". So he took those two passages together, Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and put them together in a beautiful summation of the law in the prophets. Jesus could have quoted, you know, Genesis to Malachi, that's how you have eternal life. But he summarized it. Love God, love your neighbor. Love God, love your neighbor. Bang, eternal life!

Now, the lawyer had a problem. He was caught and trapped by love. Because he knew he didn't love God with everything about him. By the way, nobody here loves God with everything about you, either. I don't either. Nobody can. Nobody does. Can't do it. And by the way, he knew he didn't love his neighbor as he loved himself. Nobody can. You can't, I can't. Didn't say, "Love your neighbor better than you love yourself". Love your neighbor just the way you love number one. You can't do that, I can't do that. This is a kind of divine love. And so the lawyer was trapped. If he had said, "Well, Lord, I'm gonna do this," Jesus didn't do, he said, "You have asked me a question". I've asked you, "What's the answer to your question"?

By the way, he was a good lawyer because a lawyer never asks anybody on the stand a question they don't know the answer to. Anybody trained in law will tell you that. You know what, don't ask somebody a question on the stand you don't already know the answer. You'll lose that case. You know what they're gonna say. So this question was asked, "Love the Lord thy God with everything. Love your neighbor as yourself". And Jesus said, "A+ You got it! If you do that, you'll have eternal life. You've answered your own question". Now, the lawyer was a little bit embarrassed, don't you think? And so he thought to redefine and narrow the scope and said, "Well, who is my neighbor? Who really is my..."

Now, he knew the answer to that question. To the Jew, the neighbor was a fellow Jew. Or maybe they even limited it more than that. Maybe just those in his own synagogue. Or maybe just those in his own immediate family. Or maybe those who were just lawyers like he was. He wanted that definition narrowed as to who my neighbor is. "Who is my neighbor then"? And then, notice the little twist that it's put in here. This is the key to the whole thing. Look at verse 29, "But wishing to justify himself". Those lawyers wanna say, "Hey, I don't love God with everything. I don't love my neighbor as I love myself. But I wanna justify myself. Therefore, you know, let's redefine neighbor. Maybe I'll be all right with another definition of neighbor, you know, I really know what a neighbor..." Trying to justify himself.

Ladies and gentlemen, we do the same thing. Trying to look good to God, trying to do enough, love enough, give enough, serve enough, be nice enough, generous enough. Get enough plus points on my account and your account that God will say, "Boy, just let that guy into heaven. He's such a nice, good, generous person". My goodness, I've earned my way, all the way to heaven. Eternal life. Eternal life. Justifying himself. You see, the lawyer didn't understand it yet and some of us don't understand it yet. You can't justify yourself. I can't justify myself. We have to be justified by the justifier who is Jesus Christ. That's the only way we have an entrée. We're ever justified with the Almighty. But he sought to divert things and said, "Who is my neighbor"? And then Jesus takes us on a trip, 17-mile trip. The 17-mile drive. Are you familiar with that?

From Jerusalem to Jericho, downhill, 3000-foot drop, almost 4000. Winding road, lot of caves, a lot of caverns, a lot of people been waylaid on that road. And Jesus now says, and the question is asked, "Who is my neighbor"? Jesus now redefines the argument. He reframes the whole argument and he defines the key word "neighbor". Watch how this works. It is so relevant for us today, it'll be amazing. "But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, 'Who is my neighbor?' and Jesus replied and said," I wanna take you on a 17-mile drive, "'Man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.'" There's a philosophy of life there. Classic philosophy of life. The philosophy of the robbers: "What's yours is mine. If I'm strong enough and shrewd enough I'll take it".

A lot of people live like that. You say, "I'm not a robber. I'm an honest person". Just a few months ago, a real estate man. I said, "How you doing"? And he said, "Well, let me tell you what happened". He said, "You know, a man died and left his widow this farm that's so strategically located where this area is just exploding and I went there, that widow. I made her an offer for the farm and she didn't know how much it was worth. And I bottomed out and she accepted it and got her lawyer to finish the deeds and I bought this property and it's worth ten times more than I paid for it. I just knocked a home run"! What do you think God thinks about that, ladies and gentlemen? "Whoa, this is a shrewd businessman here". I think it's no different than these hold-up robbers that beat the guy on the road going down to Jericho.

Some people have the idea, "What's yours is mine. If I'm shrewd enough, strong enough, I'll take it from you". Philosophy of the robbers. Then there's the philosophy of the priest and the Levite. And we'll see what their philosophy, look at verse 31, "And by chance a priest was going down on the road, and he saw him, and he passed by on the other side". The philosophy of these two guys was, "What's mine is mine. I'll keep it". There's nothing wrong with that. "What's mine is mine. I'll keep it".

Here's a priest, he'd been in Jerusalem performing religious ceremony there in the temple, going back home in the Jericho area, had all of his religious regalia on, and he looked over there and saw the man who'd been stripped and beaten and, by the way, we assume the man stripped and beaten was Jewish. We don't know that. How do you identify somebody? By their language? He was unconscious, half-dead. By their clothes? He'd been stripped. He was so beaten up, you maybe not could have recognized even his race or his face, so this is just a human being over there, a throwaway, beaten up, robbed, stripped. And the priest went by on the other side. Why? Well, he had to get home. And if he went over there and he got involved with the man, he would be ceremonially unclean. He couldn't worship in the synagogue or in the temple.

Ooh, the priest. Oh, yes, and if he happened to be dead and he touched him, he would have to go all the way back to Jerusalem and have a week of cleansing. Stand before the Eastern Gate and go through all sort of ritual and washing and sacrificing so he'd be ceremonially pure so he could worship again. My goodness. If he went over there and helped that man, it would be a week out of his life, a week of embarrassment and shame because now he couldn't even worship God. And he was a priest. The priest. So he went by on the other side. Nobody here would ever do that, would you? Here's somebody beaten. Oh, we walk by on the other side a good bit, don't we? If you ever get in the ditch, lots of luck if a Mercedes stops to help ya. No, the old boy in the truck, that's your hope. The old boy in the truck.

Years ago, I heard of a story happen in Louisiana that somebody ran off in the ditch and guy came by in a truck and got his rope out of the back of the truck, hitched the car, pulled the guy out. Man said, "Let me pay you". He said, "Oh no, no problem". He said, "I wanna pay you back some way". He said, "Well, maybe you could. Why don't you from now on carry a rope in your car"? We're so skilled at going by on the other side, aren't we? We really are. That was the priest. But here comes a Levite, the minister of music. That's right, he ran the service and the worship. Not as high-powered as the priest but, boy, he's coming by. At least, he kind of... the Scripture tells us in the Greek, he kind of looked over there. Got a little closer. He didn't get in that cubit distance that you could not get to to someone be dead. But he said, "You know, the priest has gone by and, man, I've gotta go home. I've been away," and he went by on the other side too. These are supersonic, highfalutin, religious people.

Now, Jesus is telling this story to this lawyer and the lawyer said, "Boy, I know who the third person is gonna be. It's gonna be some wonderful Jewish guy who's coming along and, you know". But look what happens. First philosophy of life, "What's yours is mine, I'll take it". Second philosophy, priest and Levite, "What's mine is mine. I'll keep it". But look at the third philosophy. Of all people, it is a Samaritan. The Samaritans. Do you know who the Samaritans were? Four hundred years before, Jews were taken over into captivity. The Assyrians came by and conquered the land. Some of the Jews remained and they intermarried with the Assyrians, pagans, and they were half Jews. This was the Samaritans and they were hated by the Jews more than absolute Gentile pagans. Half-Jews.

In fact, in John chapter 8, in order to belittle Jesus, they called him, "You're a Samaritan". And now, look at this Samaritan. Ho-ho. Look what he does. Put it in context. "But a Samaritan," and I'm sure the Jewish lawyer said, "who was on a journey," he had a purpose, "came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion". The word "compassion" means he felt it in his guts. He felt it in his innermost parts. You know what's happened to us, folks? Most of us have lost the ability to feel compassion. We see so much on television. We're so jaded by "thousands were killed" and scenes that we see. We see it in real life, we're sorta accustomed to it. We forgot how to bleed. We forgot how to wear somebody else's shoes. We forgot to have real emotional care. We've lost compassion. But this Samaritan saw this nonentity, nobody.

All he was was a human being, and he had compassion on him. And look what he did. I love this phrase. "He came to him," verse 34. Look at the Levite. It says, "He came to the place". But then Samaritan, he came to him. It's one thing to go to the place. It's another thing to come to him. He came to him and look what he did. "He bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them". Libation. This is a symbol almost of worship, pouring, worship, healing, pouring, balm of Gilead. "And put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him". He spent the night, this man was on the verge of death, taking care of him. A Samaritan, folks, a Samaritan. He put him on his own beast. That meant that he led the beast. Servants would lead the animal. The master would ride the beast, ohh. Samaritan.

And then he went more than that. "And the next day he took out 2 denarii," that'd be about 24 days of food and lodging in that day, "and gave them to the innkeeper and said, 'I will take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I'll repay it.'" You see, if that man who had been beaten, if he'd stayed longer than Samaritan had paid for, say an extended period of time, the innkeeper would have kept him there as a slave until he worked out that which he owed him. He said, "He's not gonna be a slave". Look what the Samaritan did. He took a risk. Dangerous to go down in this place and rescue this man. It cost him money. It cost him time. He gave compassion. He spent the night. It broke his schedule. Boy, what a guy is this Samaritan.

Now, the lawyer who started off this dialog was a little squeamish and squirming and Jesus said in verse 36, "Which one of these three do you think proved to be the neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands"? I think the lawyer answered, "The Samaritan". Phew! And then Jesus typically does not let us take all of our philosophy and theology and, keeping way up in the ionosphere, way up in the realm of speculation, debate, and question and answers, and question and answer, he brought it right down to earth. He said, "You go and be a Samaritan. You go and be a neighbor".

You see, that's what a parable is. A parable is a story that has in it a truth that's wrapped up in passion that calls for action. Calls for action. Jesus said, "You go and be that kind of neighbor". How desperately we need that kind of neighbor in our world today. Now, somebody may say, "Well, let me tell you something. You're saved by being a social worker, binding up wounds". Go to Matthew 25, last judgment. Lot of people there, they say, "We're Christians. We're all Christians. We're ready to go to heaven". And Jesus said, "Let me just see who's a Christian, who's not a Christian". He said, "This group over here," he said, "I was hungry and you fed me and I was naked and you clothed me. I was in prison and you visited me. I was sick and you came to me".

And this group over here, the sheep, they said, "We don't remember doing that. We don't remember doing any of that for you, Jesus". And Jesus said, "You done it one of the nobodies, one of the least of these nobodies in the world, it's like you done it unto me". Heaven, go there. This group over here, Jesus said, "Hey, I was sick, you didn't visit me. I was hungry, you didn't feed me. I was in prison, you didn't come to see me". And they said, "Oh, oh, we didn't know that..." "Yeah, you did not do it to some of these nobodies. Therefore, you did not do it to me". Bang! Judgment came. "Well," you say, "well, you've saved by being a social worker".

No, I wanna show you something. You see two trees. Look quickly. Test. Which one of those trees are alive? Not too hard, is it? The one with the leaves. Do the leaves make that tree alive? No, the tree is alive and a demonstration of that tree is alive is the fact it has leaves. That tree is dead. The demonstration that it is dead is that it does not have leaves. We have life in Jesus Christ. Therefore, because of that life in Christ, we have been neighbored by Jesus. Then we do these good works. That proves we're alive, our good works proves that we're alive. You see, we don't get to heaven by doing all these good things. It's by the free gift of God we receive Christ and that life in you and that life in me, therefore, that is when we serve the least and the last and the lost.

I read something this week from a secular periodical and the title was, "The New Ellis Island," remember? Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island. "The New Ellis Island". And I read it and it said the new Ellis Island is Houston, Texas. Pow! We've got 145 different languages spoken in Houston, Texas, 145. The whole world has come to us. The entrance to America is right here in our metropolitan area. When I was a child, we sang in church all the time, "Yellow, red, black, and white, they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world". I believed that then, I believe that now. And the children of the world have come to our part of this world. Now, the question is what kind of neighbor are we?

You see, the fact we've been neighbored by Jesus Christ and received his love gives us the capacity to neighbor others. We can't fulfill these two great commandments unless first of all we've recognized the great love that's been given to us. Then we have the capacity to love because we've received this kind of love. So we have to be able to understand and dream and conceptualize. The world has come to us and now we have to go in the name of Jesus and neighbor them all the way back to the heavenly Father. And it's the biggest challenge that we face in this part of the world today. What a calling, what a privilege, what an overwhelming challenge. Are we willing to step out, all of us, and step up and find out, as a body of believers, how we can neighbor these that God has sent to us?
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