“How to Pick a President”
November 6, 2016
By Ed Young
As the nightly ticker runs along the bottom of our television screens, our minds are inundated with towering questions. What does the future look like for our nation? What is our role in the upcoming election? Which candidate should we support? What is God’s mandate when it comes to government? We may even wonder who Jesus would vote for.
In this timely and powerful message, Ed Young looks at the uncertainty we all face when it comes to the balance of faith and politics. As he sifts through the political rhetoric and reveals our responsibility, he gets to the truth behind — or above — it all. And in the end, we discover just how to pick a president.
I want to welcome everyone to Fellowship. We’re one church in many locations whether you’re in Miami – how are you guys in Miami? Whether you’re in Dallas, Southlake, Keller, Fort Worth, maybe in East Texas. You might find yourself in gorgeous Grapevine. Welcome to Fellowship Church.
Today I’m going to talk about the election, which I believe is one of the most historical and critical elections in our history. I still can’t believe we’re down to the bottom line, we’re down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Let’s just be honest. They’re the best? They’re the best two out there? Well, it’s so easy to get involved in the specifics of their personalities, it really is. She said this. He said that. He did this. She did that. Today I want us to take a look, though, at the platforms, at the policies at this election from a Biblical perspective, from a Christocentric perspective, from a Christ-follower’s world view. We need to understand what we’re dealing with. We need to understand the trajectory, don’t we? The direction in which our country is going.
Whenever I think about our nation, I think back to a situation that happened to me at a football game. I was at a football game and it was a pretty big game. In other words, I was at a bit stadium, there were a lot of people there. There were four seats in front of me and after the first quarter, four bros – you know what bros are? They’re alpha-male idiots. They walked in and obviously they were intoxicated. I mean they were wasted, you would say, with adult beverages. They were watching, I thought, the game but the more I watched them they weren’t really watching the game, they were in their own world. And after a while one just happened to turn back and look at me and he goes,
“You… you’re Ed Young. You’re pastor Ed Young.” And I go,
“Yeah.” And he goes,
“Man, I’m sorry. I’ve been drinking a lot but, I love your messages.” And I’m thinking, “wow, they really work. What an inspirational word, thank you.” I was thinking that to myself. He goes,
“Man, could I, like, take a selfie?” He was about to fall over. “My girlfriend would really love it!” I said,
“Yeah, OK, OK.” So he takes a selfie and then he starts talking. And then he goes,
“Man, I can’t believe you’re at the game.” And I go,
“Yeah, I’m here.” He said,
“Where’s my phone? I need to text my girlfriend this picture.” I said,
“Dude, it’s in your hand.”
“Oh! Thanks, man!” and so I just stood there and watched him. He did start to sober up around the fourth quarter, which was good. Really, really good.
I think what I just described to you, though, is a snapshot of our culture. I think our culture is drunk. I think our culture is intoxicated. In other words, there’s a game going on and we’re so drunk with deception, so inebriated with our own thing, our own independence, that we don’t even realize there’s a contest out there. There is a game going on, friends, a conflict going on, for the very heart and soul of our nation. The Bible says our war, our contest, our fight is not against flesh and blood. It’s against these principalities, these forces that we can’t even see. There’s a battle going on. And could it be, could it be that America is intoxicated? Could it be that we’re drunk with deception? Could it be that we don’t really understand or realize the implications of the trajectory of where our nation is going?
Whenever I watch a football game, you know they’re always breaking the game down. They’re talking about the typical this team versus that team, but then they’ll always say, “Let’s look at the individual matchups. I mean, let’s look at some of these other situations that most people don’t look at.” And then they’ll talk about one quarterback versus the other quarterback. Maybe this defensive end is facing this tight end. Or this offensive tackle and all of us who really love football are really into it. Well, I thought I would do just that as we talk about this over-arching platform, some of these policies, what’s hanging in the balance regarding this election. I thought I would do that to talk about some classic matchups. And these matchups I am going to discuss are pretty much just one-word matchups. In other words, when I throw these words out you’ll go, “Oh, I get it!” because there are so many complex issues out there, there are so many subtle nuances, so much data. I tried to take all of this matter, all of these complexities and boil them down to where we can understand them and apply them to where we live today so we can make the right choice, the Biblical choice, when it comes to the future of our nation.
And need I mention the responsibility that each one of us has to vote? Jesus said that we’re under the authority of our rules. We have an opportunity in this great nation to cast a vote. And I would implore you to vote for one or the other. I wouldn’t suggest to you, although I can’t make you do it, to say, “Well, I’m going third party kind of as a rebellion to make my point.” I mean, you’re wasting your vote. This is my opinion, now. Also, some people that I’ve talked to, even well-meaning Christians, they’re going, “I’m just sitting this one out. These people are so corrupt. I mean Hillary calling Trump corrupt is the corrupt calling the corrupt, corrupt. And Trump calling Hillary corrupt is the corrupt calling the corrupt, corrupt. I’m just… I tell you the language they’re using, and some of these emails and things. I’m just not gonna vote.” Well, don’t do that. Twenty-five million Christians sat the bench in 2012! We’re the most influential voting block in America! Step up and vote! Please! Please.
T.S. I’ve written down some words before I get into the words we’re going to talk about. When I throw these words out you’ll think about the election once you. Wikileaks. You can’t make this stuff up, can you? Emails. Locker room talk. Benghazi. Tax returns. Bullying scandal. Polls. The DOJ. I just wanted to say that because when I said those words, automatically we’re like, OK. I got it. I see certain things.
Well, here are the words. I’m going to go through several of them that we need to think about as believers from a Christian perspective. The first word is truth. Just truth. Say it with me. Truth. There is truth in the world. Truth – listen to me – is outside of us. Truth is not inside of us. It’s very important we understand that. If I look inside of myself for truth, I’m looking at someone who is fallen and fallible. If I am the truth source, the result of my life is going to be chaos. Conversely, as I look outside of myself, as man has done for thousands and thousands and thousands of years, if I’m looking outside of myself for truth I believe a transcendent God has set forth universal truths, objective truths, that are true everywhere, all the time, for yours and mine. So truth is out there. As a believer, we have an opportunity to take the truth, to receive the truth from the outside in. The new age philosophy, humanism, says, “I look inside myself.” No, no, no, no, no! If we look inside of ourselves we’re going to be all jacked up and that’s one of the problems in our world today.
In John 8:32, “Then you’ll know the truth,” Jesus said, “and the truth will set you free.” It will set you free. We can be free, indeed. But as we’ve been studying around here, so often we think in our relativistic world that truth is subjective. Not objective, but subjective. In other words, post-modernism says I am truth. The way I feel is truth. So what is true for me is truth. And what’s true to you is truth. And my truth is equal to your truth. Sounds so sexy, doesn’t it? And some of us are going, “Well, yeah, that sounds good, Ed.” Some of you at our campuses are going, “Well, yeah, I was taught that. And that song is about that. And I read a book about that. Isn’t truth relative?” Well, no. In the book of Judges 21:25 you see the problem with subjective truth. “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” And as you read that in the context you know of the chaos that God’s people experienced. What is truth? Truth is given to us by God. There are absolute truths in the world. They are anchors.
I remember as a kid I wanted an anchor for my little boat. So I went out and got a Clorox bottle, put sand in the Clorox bottles, and I thought OK. We have some extra clothesline. If I measure out enough clothesline I can make myself an anchor. So got the Clorox bottle, filled it up, and I’m not really into details. So I got this clothesline and thought, “Yeah, that looks about right. Chopped it off, took it down to the boat, tied it to the boat. Paddled out. I thought, “I’m just going to anchor.” Throw the anchor out. Problem: the line was way the heck too short. It was like, I wasn’t even near the bottom and I was just floating all over the lake.
Our anchor line is too short when we say, “OK, truth is relative to the situation.” Our anchor line is too short when we’re involved in situational ethics. Moral relativism is what I’m talking about. What is moral relativism? Let’s look at it. It says “the belief that there are no absolute or objective standards for moral values, which are used to determine right and wrong.”
In our culture today, and here is what is in play as you think about the trajectory of the different candidates and their platforms. Truth, what is truth? Is there absolute truth? Are there anchors out there? Or are we just floating on the seas of relativism? I feel this way. No, you feel that way. But both are valid.
You watch a football game. And you’re watching this game and the quarterback goes, “You know what? I’m sick and tired of four downs. I think we should have seven downs. I really feel that. That’s true to me.” So this relativistic quarterback decides, all right. We’re going to have seven downs. But the NFL referee goes,
“Oh no! Four downs!” but the quarterback goes,
“Oh, stop. Stop. Seven downs is true for me. I feel like I should have seven downs.”
Well, in our culture the NFL referee should say,
“You’re right. That’s true for you because both truth sources are equal.”
That is insane. It’s absolutely chaotic.
What if I said, to illustrate this again if you didn’t get it, I’m a bird? I am a bird! <bird call> I sound like a bird, I’m a bird. And I know where the ladders are behind the stage. I’m going to climb to the top of this giant worship center and after the service is over I’m gonna fly. I’m sincere about it. It’s true to me. Everyone’s going, “Ed, you’re nuts, man.” Because here’s what’s gonna happen. The law of gravity will take effect and there will be a bunch of feathers all over the parking lot.
So see, I can sincerely believe something. I can sincerely think something is true, but I can be sincerely wrong. Isn’t that amazing? We hear that in every realm of culture these days, in the arts, in the media, Hollywood, online, in schools, everywhere. Just feelings. That post-modernistic mentality. So as you go to the polls, think about truth. Which platform believes in this absolute truth? Which platform has anchors and which one is just floating on the seas of relativism? Which one says, I will just kind of look at this cord and just chop it off where I think it probably is and we’re just gonna tie it up and move on down? Study these transcendent truths. I mean, look at any culture. Think about love. Think about honesty. Think about unity. Think about respect for life. Those are the values, absolute truth, that we see. And we have to understand that and understand when we live by absolute truth, life makes sense. When we don’t, it’s like a football game with no rules. Truth.
Here’s another word. And I will probably come back next week and even unpack that more and more. I mean, there’s so much there. I have to edit my comments. I would like to talk for about an hour on it but I can’t. And you’re probably going, “Yeah, I’m glad.”
Let me talk about another word, and this is another cool word. The first one is truth, the second one, tolerance.
Hey, whoa! That’s intolerant! Whoa! Ho! I just want to be tolerant. Yeah, tolerant. What is tolerance? Sadly, most of us, because we’re drunk with deception, we’re inebriated with our own independence, we’re totally misinformed. Most of us are so me-istic we don’t even understand what tolerance is about. The definition of tolerance, the real definition of tolerance, let’s read it together. Tolerance – 1-2-3- the willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own. I should be, as a believer, the most tolerant person around. So should you. You should be the most tolerant person at your school. You should be the most tolerant person at the office, the most tolerant person around the neighborhood. But again, this is true tolerance, the willingness to accept.
The new tolerance, I call it faux tolerance, says this: faux tolerance. Now here’s how we have taken this word and totally changed it. Faux tolerance is a forced acceptance, approval, and applause of beliefs that are different from your own. It’s forced. Not only do you accept it, do you have to accept gay marriage, transgender bathrooms, not only do you accept people who feel that they are homosexual or maybe they feel that they are the opposite sex at the moment, we should accept them. That’s tolerance. The faux tolerance is we should approve and applaud their behavior. We need to say that they are as right as we are. Believers.
Now you’ve got to be kidding me. You’ve gotta be kidding me. You mean the homosexual community is going to try to tell you and me that their deviant sexual behavior is the same thing as being a minority? You have got to be smoking some crazy stuff. We accept adulterers here. We have a lot of adulterers here at Fellowship. No one look around. We accept fornicators. We accept homosexuals. We don’t, however, approve of their behavior. We don’t applaud their behavior. And as we look at our nation, we’re very, very close right now for us just to say that marriage was instituted by God. It’s a one woman/one man scenario. And for us to even say that in the future might put our tax-exempt status in jeopardy and it might throw me in jail.
“Yeah, but I feel that homosexuality is right!” You know what? I understand that you feel it, but just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because I feel like a woman, you’re a guy and you feel like a woman. You mean you’re gonna walk into the bathroom with my daughters? With your grandchildren? With your teenagers? Homosexuality is not a political issue, friends. It’s not. It’s a Bible issue.
Abortion is not a political issue. I was walking on the beach in Boca Grande, Florida several years ago, saw a fence in the middle of the beach. I thought, that’s odd. I walked up to the fence and looked and there was a sign that said, “Warning! Developing sea turtle eggs.” And it told me if I stepped on the sand on top of the eggs, if I disturbed the eggs in any way I would incur this unbelievable fine and I could face prison time. We are worrying about developing sea turtle eggs when we’re killing, we’re taking the lives of thousands and thousands of developing babies? What’s right is wrong and what’s wrong is right. And as the prophet Jeremiah has told us, we have forgotten how to blush! And I’m here to tell you if God does not rain judgment on the United States of America, he’s gonna have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!
Now, we need to be much greater than tolerance. Tolerance is just showing up. I said I want to be the most tolerant person around, but I need to go to a holy ‘notha level. I need to do the 1 Corinthians 13 thing. When I’m dealing with someone who is out in left field spiritually, whoever they are. The fornicator, the adulterer, the homosexual, whoever it is. And let me give you an example. I want to read a little section by Bob Hostettler, who talked about the new tolerance.
“Tolerance says (again this is the new tolerance, right?) you must approve of what I do. Love responds (1 Corinthians 13 love) I must do something harder. I will love you even when your behavior offends me. Tolerance says you must agree with me. Love responds I must do something harder. I will tell you the truth because I’m convinced that the truth will set you free. Tolerance says you must allow me to have my way. Love responds I must do something harder. I will plead with you to follow the right way because I believe you’re worth the risk. Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive. Love takes risks. Tolerance glorifies division. Love seeks unity. Tolerance costs nothing. Love costs everything.”
Truth. You’ve got to vote for truth. Which candidate stands for truth? Stands for these transcendent, absolute truth. Which policy, which platform, which direction goes that way? How about tolerance? How about tolerance? Which one? Which direction do you choose? Truth outside of us, truth that God has given us, loving people, but also speaking the truth in love. Allowing freedom of religion, allowing God’s men and women to say, “thus saith the Lord.” Those are major, monster issues.
Here’s the third word: responsibility. Responsibility. You know, the Bible talks a lot about responsibility. Do you realize the gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, is about responsibility? I have to take responsibility for my sinfulness, for my behavior. I turn from that, turn to Jesus, invite him into my life, I know the truth and the truth sets me free. My sins are forgiven and forgotten. I have a responsibility before God to live my life. I have a responsibility to be the best citizen possible.
The Bible also says I have a responsibility to work. I don’t know if you know this or not but God gave us the desire to work before sin entered the human equation. We’re made to work. And 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “For even when we were with you (Paul talking) we gave you this rule. The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
We have to help – hear me – the downtrodden and destitute. We have to help those who can’t help themselves. The physically challenged, the mentally challenged, we have to help people who cannot work. However, most of the people who are receiving all of these benefits from Fedzilla (that’s my nickname for the federal government) really have the ability to do something and to work. They do.
I read several years ago that 31% of Medicare is fraud. Now those of you have businesses, what if 31% of your business was fraud? What if 31% of your business, ma’am, was fraud? Bad boy, bad boy, what you gonna do? I mean, name one thing the government runs that is run well. One thing. We have to take responsibility for our lives to work.
Fedzilla, though, Fedzilla’s role is to protect. Not to rob us, it’s to protect us, right? We live in a free country. Yet, Fedzilla has taken so much and now when anyone achieves anything the taxes on businesses are at the top of the world in our nation – 40%. Fedzilla! <growling> Takes it, shifts it through the government, and then redistributes it. That’s what Fedzilla does. So it’s basically an assault on achievement. It’s like, “Nah, I don’t want to take responsibility. I just want to have this victim mentality, this entitlement situation.”
Our nation was built on taking responsibility. Our nation was built on a work ethic. Our nation was not built on everybody gets a trophy. Everybody has… I mean, see we’re involved in this slide toward socialism! I just got back from Cuba. The country is beautiful, the people are so friendly. Dark, depressed. They have had the achievement and the creativity and the desire kicked out of them. Socialism. It’s a horrible place. You can see the potential that was once there and, by a miracle, would be there again. Socialism doesn’t work. And now and then a Biblical moron will come up to me and say, “Hey, wasn’t the first church, the early church, didn’t they practice socialism?” No. They shared what they had but they voluntarily shared that. They weren’t forced like we are with Fedzilla. Responsibility. Let’s take responsibility. Let’s step up and use our God-given creativity. Let’s have a smaller government.
A congressman told Dad a while back that there are more employees that work in the farming aspect of the government than there are farmers in our nation. Wow is right. One more word and we’re done. I have some more but I have to stop. I know you want me to keep going but I have to stop. I can tell you’re like, oh no! Keep going!
Wisdom. How about wisdom? Wisdom, wisdom, we need wisdom, don’t we? There are so many I’m just gonna say it, so many intellectual idiots out there. Wisdom begins with God. So many dummies with doctorates, so many loony lawyers, so many morons with master’s degrees. Isn’t that truth? I mean, just look around Washington. We have some great people in Washington. We know some of them, you know some of them, and everyone in our government is not bad or whatever, but a lot of it is a joke. I mean, if we ran our church the way our government was run we would have about 52 people and about 5,000 employees.
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
I marvel at the common sense of Christians. Common sense is uncommon. It comes to us from our God. It’s wisdom. It’s the ability to discern. The ability to negotiate the maze of life. So you can have all the intelligence in the world and that doesn’t mean a thing. We have to have wisdom and we need wisdom in this hour to vote biblically, to vote with the platform, with the principles, with the trajectory, with the vision of where the two different platforms are going.
We need to look at it from a Bible perspective. Where are we gonna be 30 years from now. How about the Supreme Court? Wow, the next person in charge makes monstrous decisions or monstrous mistakes. All we have to do is like have the platforms in one hand and the Bible in the other. Abortion – what does the Bible say about abortion? Hmmm. Gay marriage – what does the Bible say about homosexuality? Huh. Out of control spending – what… OK? The Bible talks about that. Accountability – oh, yeah. A right to defend yourself, religious freedom? We make the call, though. Are we going to stand there in the stands, drunk? Drunk on deception, drunk with misinformation? Or, because it’s about the 4th quarter. Or are we gonna sober up? Because my drunk friend traded in his beer for ice cream and nachos and coffee. And I watched him sober up. So it’s time for us to sober up and to vote Biblically with a Christ-centered world view. And I’m telling you, I believe we can turn the tide of where we’re going right now.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]