The Golden Rule. I learned it as a boy in Sunday school and in public school as well for it has great application to all decent people everywhere, whether we are of faith or not. It's a basic rule which guides us in how we should act toward others and it helps society remain stable and beneficial for all. It was certainly brought up directly in Biblical times, with two of the four Gospels, both Matthew and Luke including it in their differing presentations of the life of Christ on earth. Notice how I added a second verse about it in the scripture according to Luke to show what it means about loving our fellow man, even those most unworthy of it. And I'll be the first to admit that it is not easy. Even God and Jesus understand that, but they put the bar high for those of us who want to inherit the Kingdom with them when we depart this earth for it is up to us to try and live, mortal sinners that we all are, the way they ask of us.
So, in a time when the world seems upside down, weak leaders caving to violence which leads to more suffering by those who are most closely impacted, what should we do and how should we act? Well, if you are a person of faith, perhaps having an understanding of where such a great concept of decent living such as the Golden Rule came from and what that entails which is much more than just the two scriptural passages cited above. I suggest a look at four critical components of why we should want to be good, not evil, as a solid baseline. There are many, many more, of course, in the Holy Bible, but these are, at least to me, very special. Let's look at them individually.
1. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 and Deuteronomy 24-25). A hallmark of the Old Testament, the Ten Commandments gives excellent advice as the Law of God for guidance on how to live cleanly, reverently and in accordance with God. Most of us have read them, many believe them to be true, yet we humans have trouble following through. Let's face it, mankind has difficulty staying on the straight and narrow, and in a time when so many seem to fail to pay any attention to what is right, not wrong, it is easy to go astray. But the Ten Commandments provide rules to maintain good order and peace and if everyone would follow them, so many of the problems of the world would disappear.
2. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In this great discourse by Jesus, the Law is made much more understandable to humankind as Jesus talks about what we should do with our lives and what we should be. It's all about good living and how and what it can mean to all of us.
3. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). This gem of a passage which opens the Sermon on the Mount offers the eight great blessings that Jesus' believes to be so important. As blessings, see how they temper the cold reality of the Law with the benefits that can be added by the blessings of grace, decency, goodness and forgiveness. And see how they put a premium on humility and simple living not extravagance and luxury.
4. Lastly, the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25 and also from slightly distant perspective in both Mark and Luke). In this discussion that Jesus had with His disciples about a week before His earthly death, he exposes them to the harsh reality of the future, a future which will be full of trials and tribulations caused by those who truly hate the goodness and light that He offers. He wants to make sure His disciples, who soon will become His Apostles left behind to spread His message and will have many doubts, are aware of the consequences for those who use hate, greed and treachery in place of goodness and light. And remember, that all of the actions He says we humans should commit to should be based on free will decisions and the fellowship of humankind under His leadership as the living agent of the Father.
Understanding what our Heavenly Father and Jesus as the Son of God and our Mediator with the Father expect of us and want to prepare us for is a key to how we handle things. Now, it doesn't mean that we try to walk into the No Go Zone that has been created in a place like Seattle. No, but it does mean we have to open our hearts and minds to God to show us the way to deal with it. And, of course, a key here is to pray for an opening of hearts which includes the perpetrators who have clearly violated laws and the rights of those who had businesses and homes in that zone, as well as the police and all enforcement officials. That doesn't mean that those who have committed violence should get off free of punishment if they wisely stand down, but it does mean that whatever force is needed is used appropriately, not excessively and to try and end it in a way that meets God's standards. That only comes with the ability to discern, a capacity which comes from paying attention to God and letting Him guide our actions. We achieve superlative levels of success in this life when we turn it over to the guidance of God. Justice without the Savior is no justice at all. And I have used the Seattle situation as only an example since there is so much more ongoing across our country and the world today. No solution can ever come without first establishing the peace and returning property to its rightful owner, but then the punishment and corrective phases must be actions which God will approve of.
Can it be done? No one is sure, but the point of this entire Sunday commentary of faith is to state that we must do it with the guidance of God the Father and Son. We must try. If not, we will never succeed for His Way is the only way. And that doesn't mean weakness, no, quite the opposite, for when we put God at the center of justice guided by our faith, not the whims of weak and faulty mankind, real justice can be achieved. We all have much to learn, but from the perspective of where we find ourselves, what do we have to lose. And in the meantime, pray like you've never prayed before. Pray for peace and calm, for a solution to the problem which meets the approval of God and for kindness and understanding to take the place of hate and all things that can create against all of us. Have a blessed Sunday.