“Fundamentalist groups say Warren hangs out with Jews and Muslims and gays and on and on. The point is, I’m not allowed to not love anybody” –Rick Warren. Isn’t it amazing how very simple the gospel message is? Yet it is common humanity that spoils God’s perfect ideal with onerous legalism. The perfect ideal is the Golden Rule.
This golden rule of Jesus is based on the consistent application of treating others as you want to be treated.
Imagine treating the next person you see exactly as you’d like to be treated. Doesn’t sound that hard does it... ironically, however, trying something that makes such sense in theory produces some marked transformations in our, and others’, thinking. There, in a moment, is the revelatory transcendent power of God made real, in one simple illustration.
This simple golden rule cuts both with and against the grain and some simply don’t get it that it’s a heart attitude based in the ‘moral why.’
Jesus said, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” –Matthew 7:9-12 (TNIV). (The Golden Rule in italics.)
There are probably a thousand points of note in the passage above. To pick just one--in connecting the bread/stone and fish/snake allegories with the golden rule--it could be ‘if it is good, why would we not give to someone (and not only our ‘son’) what they want?’ The Father does; when we ask for good things, things pleasing to his will, he gives--and plentifully at that.
We’re to model this. We’re not to withhold good things or our love, via our actions, from others. And we need to do it consistently, especially when no one is looking. When no one is looking, he (God) still sees. (Who are we fooling when we pretend no one’s looking?)
And, yes, it often costs us to give. We’re to learn to not count costs. Love costs--and mostly of ourselves; we’re to acknowledge it and move on to higher things using the will of the mind. This way loving becomes a habit of instinctive choice. We think ourselves into behaving in a consistently loving way. Our minds are transforming our hearts in this way, but our requisite understanding is based in the Golden Rule--this drives our understanding and behaviour. So, in this way our hearts also convict our minds.
A basic premise of Christianity is learning how to consistently apply the Golden Rule; giving good things to those who want them, just as we ourselves would want them. It will take focus for the rest of our lives to master it, one day at a time.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.