Golden Rule Old Fashioned?

September 25, 2016

In light of the escalating violence in our country, I’d like to add a perspective that I’ve been thinking about and see if it resonates in anyone else.

It has to do with Jesus words recorded in the Gospels.  Jesus’ teachings of the Golden Rule, the greatest and second greatest commandments, and the first part of the Lord’s Prayer, put together, precisely paints a picture of the heart of the Father as it relates to our relationship with him and each other.  In case you’re not familiar with these, here they are for convenience:

In Matt 7:12 Jesus is quoted as saying,
”In everything, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. This sums up the law and the prophets.”  This is commonly called the Golden Rule.

The second reference is found in Mark 12:28-31, and discusses the first and second greatest commandment:
Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The third reference is in the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus taught us to pray with certain concepts in mind; the one I’d like to focus in on is the first one which reads:
“Our Father who art in Heaven, Hollowed be thy name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

As familiar as many of us are with these passages, I suspect most of us haven’t taken the time to discover the depth of what this really means in our reality.  Let’s start with the Golden Rule.  The easiest way to explain the issue is to start with stories that we all know and are familiar with in fiction. Let’s look  at the story of Cinderella. She was an adult slave essentially, and put into bondage by her step-sisters. If confronted by the Golden Rule, everything that the stepsisters demanded from Cinderella would have been dependent upon them doing the same for her. If this rule is followed as Jesus had intended it to be followed, then it would have equalized the difference of authority power that existed. At the least, it would have put respect between Cinderella and her stepsisters. They would have to serve to be served. This is what Jesus meant by the first will be last and the last will be first. His kingdom is totally upside down from our worldview. It’s no wonder that the enemies of Jesus hate the Bible and hate what Jesus was about, because in reality he strips power from despots and gives respect and honor to peasants.

Let’s consider the United States as another example. When this nation was founded, it was based upon as little government intervention as possible when it comes to American freedom and individual exceptionalism.  The Golden Rule actually was the standard in making America’s form of democracy work. We actually trusted the Government to do its job, leaving us to be what we were meant to be, and Government trusted the people to do what was right, leaving the states and local governments to handle local issues. Now, Government doesn’t trust the citizenry and we don’t trust the Government. Kingdom principals would once again bring in humility and trust, and bring harmony between Government and citizens.

We pray, “Let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Powerful words that we often don’t think about, yet those words are echoed again and again in rote response in Churches around the world. So what are we actually saying? I think it goes something like this:

“Let your kingdom principals (Kings serving Peasants, and the lowly lifted up) be the rule here, not the exception.”

Regarding the first and second commandment, I see this as God’s commandment for us to make things square with Him (golden rule applied to God; Whatsoever you would like me (Jesus) to do for you, do the same to me… i.e. Serve the poor and do my work). This is our top mandate, to set up vertical relationship, while at the same time, apply the Golden rule to each other—loving others as much as we love ourselves. How many of us love and take care of our neighbor as much as ourselves? When we have both the vertical and horizontal taken care of, the lines form a Cross, our symbol of harmony with God. 

I’m afraid that the current situation with these riots over Police shootings can’t get any better until trust is restored. Trust can only be restored if humility is present, and I don’t see that happening unless God’s ways are once again considered. When God’s ways are prevented from being taught, we get what we have; people who look only to themselves for their existence, and oh what stress and anguish we go through when we have no comfort or safety net, and everything is dependent on oneself.