Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Golden Rule - Jan 29

Has there ever been a more misappropriated scripture than the 'Golden Rule'? I strongly doubt it. Here is my attempt at giving a proper Biblical understanding to this portion of God's word.

"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. The second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matthew 22:36-40)

Two Rules for Living

Jesus did not come to give us mere suggestions and cheap advice. Living for Him is exclusive, it is not a multiple choice endeavour. It is not just any old way to live or the best way to live, it should be seen as the only way to live. Understand Jesus is not being heavy-handed is His assessment. He is saying, 'Look, you can live like this or you can face your destruction. Your choice'. The two rules for happy living are to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. Seems simple enough but lets take a closer look:

Love the Lord your God

This is not meant to be repeated as some empty mantra. It is both an instruction and a warning. As I talked about in my previous post, false idols (and the false systems of worship they propagate) are in endless supply in our so-called enlightened society. The god of pleasure, which gave us STD's, homosexuality, feminism and abortion has destroyed the natural and healthy expressions of our sexuality. The god of fortresses (such as Allah) has given us the love of money, materialism, naked ambition and the doctrine of 'power at all costs'. All these false worship systems have deceived, disappointed and destroyed those who have not known Jesus Christ as their saviour.

You cannot please God apart from faith. God will not heed the prayers of rebels unless it happens to the prayer of salvation. Nor will He listen to half-hearted or insincere prayer. None of us is where we want to be in our personal development if we are truly honest with ourselves. There's always more room for a more mature faith in our lives. Having a forgiving spirit and showing compassion for others is also crucial. To honor and love Jesus as He truly ought to be is something we should all aspire to. We should ALWAYS want to make more room for wisdom and discernment in our lives. All of this means we've simply fallen short of God's expectations for us. Let no-one say, 'I have enough wisdom, love and compassion in my life'. No friend, you don't. Such pride in one's self-worth has no place in the Kingdom of God.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Which brings us to our second point. Now that you're all squared away and love God with all your heart, soul and mind, loving your neighbor should be a snap right? Well no. You see, it's easy to love someone who's just like you. Same race, same ethnic heritage, same sensibilities and sense of style. But what about those who are remarkably different in their culture and worldview? In happy multi-cultural Canada where peace and harmony are supposed to rule, we want to wring each other's necks. Thankfully, the likelihood of civil strife is low.

Here's my take on this: God deliberately puts difficult people in our path in order to train us. The neurotic, the fool, the bully, and others that simply rub us the wrong way. This 'training' as I put it is for His glory, not ours. How are we to be an effective leader in the Kingdom of God when we only deal with people we like in ideal scenarios? God wishes to equip us. Being a leader means dealing with difficult people in near impossible circumstance. The 'love your neighbor' command is designed to humble us. Why? So we can be ready for that eternal position which God has personally prepared for us.

Here's another angle to this which I'm quite sure you've not considered. God loves families and the institution of marriage. You see, in a tribal society, a man's pool of potential brides is small. The 'loving you neighbor' command significantly enlarges that pool and therefore increases the likelihood of marriage. If both the man and woman have a fear of God (Note: A fear of God means exactly that. Not reverence. Not admiration. Fear. Got that?) and want to raise their children with the same holy fear, the race or culture factor diminishes significantly. Thus harmony within society is all but assured. See, God truly knows what's best for us!

It's late. I'm going to bed.

Johnny Cash

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