The Golden Rule

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Sermon April 3, 2011
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  Page 1 of  9 SLIDE 1I loved the stories that were shared on the video. Dave Nyberg did a great job of editing thisvideo into three minutes into three minutes. We want to use video a lot more in worship. If youhave some ideas, let us know.I grew up in a household where my Dad taught me to question everything, and I went toschool at Carleton College where questioning was built into the curriculum. So I’ve never donewell with rules. You share a rule with me, and I immediately look for the ways in which the ruledoesn’t work. When I served the Presbyterian Church in Plainview I would often say that our church would make rules and then figure out how to break them. One reason I was attracted toJesus is he seemed to value people more than the rules. If a rule came into conflict with loving or helping another person, he always chose to love and help.I have to be honest that when I hear the Golden Rule there’s a part of me that feels like myGrandmother Moore is lecturing me. My Grandmother Moore was a Iowa, farm wife. She was thematriarch of my Dad’s family and the one through whom my family’s Presbyterian connectioncame.My Grandmother Moore was an opinionated woman and when she shared her opinions shewould share them loudly. A couple months before she died she spent two weeks visiting with me inmy home. We had a great time. We looked at the world differently. Part of the fun of her visit wasgetting into arguments with her. We had a blast having argumentsWhen I hear the Golden Rule I feel like someone is doing this to me:SLIDE 2Or thisSLIDE 3  Page 2 of  9 Or even this:SLIDE 4When Jesus shared the Golden Rule he wasn’t trying to lecture us. He was sharing a visionof the Kingdom of God. A vision of the Kingdom that I believe takes place in heaven and one hewants you and I to live into here in the world. It’s a vision of self that is far different than the onethat we hear in the world. Living by the Golden Rule is a core part of living in the Kingdom.This is the 5 th Sunday of a sermon series I’ve shared on the Sermon on the Mount that iscalled “The Ultimate Self Help Book.” Each Sunday we’re sharing this self-help book with you. Iencourage you to get it out. In this self-help book you’ll find six Scripture and devotional readingsthat relate to the Golden Rule. If you read the devotion would you E-mail me this week? I haven’treceived any E-mail comments about the devotional lately. I’m always curious if this devotion isbeing used and if it’s effective. You have a place to take notes. I believe that God might speak toyou today through my words. You have a preview of next week’s sermon. On the back you haveall the titles in this self-help series. You can watch previous chapters of this self-help book bygoing to colpres.org or going to our church’s Facebook page.I’m guessing that we all know the Golden Rule. Just in case we don’t, let’s read it together.SLIDEIn everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and theprophets. Matthew 7:12.There is one other place in the Scriptures where the Golden Rule can be found. This Scripture isfound in Luke. It reads like this:SLIDEDo to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31Most religions have some version of the Golden Rule:SLIDE:Hinduism: “Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you” (Mahabharata5:15:17)  Page 3 of  9 SLIDE:Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow person. This is the law: all the rest iscommentary.” (Hillel the Elder)SLIDE:Confucianism: “What you do not want others to do to you, do not do to others” Confucius,c. 500 B.C.SLIDE:Islam: “no one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother or sister thatwhich the person desires.” SunnahThere are differences to these Golden Rules. In Confucianism the Golden Rule takes anegative tact. Don’t do anything to someone that you wouldn’t want that person to do to you. Jesustook a positive tact. Jesus taught us to do to others what we want the people to do to us. There’s adifference.What’s inspiring to me is when we dedicate ourselves to living by the Golden Rule, we arelinking arms with religious people all across the planet. The Golden Rule is the basis for caring for every human being on the planet. Every human being on this planet has basic human rights that theworld is called to protect. We protect those rights because of the Golden Rule.I don’t know if you read about the terrible tragedy that that happened in the Ivory Coastyesterday. There’s a Civil War going on in this African country. Why would we be concernedabout (thousands of people) being killed in the African country of Ivory Coast. We’re concernedbecause of the Golden Rule. If we were part of a group who was massacred we would wantsomebody to help us. So we do onto them as we would want them to do unto us.People have taken the Golden Rule and had some fun with it. Some people have understoodthe Golden Rule to mean “whoever has the gold rules.” Some people have said that the GoldenRule should read, “do onto others before they do unto you.” Or take what George Bernard Shaw— who didn’t approve of the Golden Rule:  Page 4 of  9 SLIDE “Do not do unto others as they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be thesame.”It’s important that we understand the when Jesus said “do” onto others what he meant was“love” others. Another way to think of the Golden Rule is we love others as we want to be loved byothers. Doing is loving.If we don’t see the doing part of the Golden Rule as love following the Golden Rule can bedisastrous.Let me share an extreme example. A suicide bomber could make the argument that he or she lives by the Golden Rule. By definition a suicide bomber doesn’t care about living. Thatperson could say since I don’t care about my own life, I don’t care how you treat me. Since I don’tcare about how you treat me, then I don’t care how I treat you. When a suicide bomber attempts toblow up a building that person is actually living by the Golden Rule. He (let’s just use “he” as anexample) is doing unto others as he would want others to do unto him.Another example. If a man can’t stop lusting after women—something Jesus cautionedagainst in the Sermon on the Mount—that man’s sexual appetites could be justified by the GoldenRule. If a man wanted others to be with him, then he might try to impose himself onto others. Hewould be doing onto others as he would want others to do onto him.Obviously these are extreme examples, but I wanted to use them to show that the GoldenRule breaks down unless the doing part of the Golden Rule is love. We love others as we wouldwant others to love us.The key part of the Golden Rule is exploring and ultimately growing in what Jesus meant bylove. The apostle Paul fleshed out a bit what love looks like in the first passage we heard in 1Corinthians 13. We hear this passage at many weddings. In a way that’s too bad because thispassage is a fabulous teaching on how to love and shares the qualities of love. He said.
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