We’ve all heard of the Golden Rule.
According to Wikipedia, nearly every culture and every religion have some version of this rule.
Some, like the Bible, state it in positive terms; “Do unto others has you would have them do unto you.“
Some state it in negative terms; “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you.“
Some talk about it like more of a feeling or emotion; “Don’t wish on others what you don’t want to happen to you.“
It’s pretty much a universal understanding that we treat people in the way we want to be treated and we don’t treat people in ways we don’t want to be treated.
But here’s the thing. Jesus takes it a step further.
You see, Jesus assumes that people won’t always follow the golden rule. He assumes that there will be times in our lives that people will do exactly the opposite of the golden rule.
They will intentionally hurt us.
They will seek to do things to us that we can safely assume they don’t want done to them.
They will wish harm upon us and speak to us with malice.
They will act in ways that do not fit within the parameters of the golden rule.
So Jesus says, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Basically, He says we are called to follow the golden rule even if everyone else is breaking it. We are supposed to be different, stand out, reflect Christ to the world around us.
Many of you read my recent post last week entitled It is Not Okay where I responded to various examples of disruptive, disrespectful and disturbing behavior of the current election cycle. Over a half million people read the post, with many sharing it on Facebook and Twitter, and many responding in comments, messages and emails. The responses I received over the past week from across the United States and the world ranged from support, encouragement, and agreement to nothing short of hate, disgust and anger.
But the ones that most broke my heart were the ones that started with “I agree with you but…” and ended up saying something along the lines of “the only reason they acted that way is because they were baited.” In other words, the attitudes, actions, and behaviors I said were not okay, actually were okay because someone else did it first.
Basically the opposite of the Golden Rule.
More like the not-so-golden rule of “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”
A rule that Jesus destroyed when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.“
In that original article, I asked repeatedly, “What are we teaching our children?” Based on the many, many responses I received, I can say these appear to be the things we are passing on to the next generation.
- If someone hurts you, you have every right to hurt them back. After all, they deserve it. An eye for an eye…
- If you disagree with someone about anything for any reason, you can express that disagreement in any way you want. After all, free speech and everything…
- If someone is being hurt, disrespected, treated abusively, bullied, or made fun of, the best thing to to do is to find out what they did to deserve it first, before stepping in to defend them or stop the behavior. A tooth for a tooth.
If we are teaching our children that behaviors of aggression and bullying are allowable in certain circumstances, then why are we surprised when they grow up and violence and anger become the language of choice?
So what does that mean for us? What should be we be teaching our children?
It means if someone hits us, we can’t hit them back.
It means if someone insults us, we don’t insult them back.
If someone steals from us, we don’t steal back.
If every manner of evil is done to us… it is still not okay for us to do the same to them.
Period. End of story. It is still not okay.
Christ has given His Church an ethic of Love to live by. He models for us a walk that puts others first and relentlessly pursues peace. If we are teaching our children anything other than that, we need to take a step back and really examine Christ’s words. As I shared last week…
Love God. Love Others.
Simple as that. Anything else is not okay.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- And much more!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.