Tuesday, June 7, 2011
The Platinum Rule
After an absence of a few weeks due to our Encounters With God series, today the Jesus Revolution returns to its usual Tuesday time slot! The main idea of the revolution is that we need to get back to being an Acts 2:42 church, living and loving the way Jesus taught us to. Today we're going to take a hard look at how we treat other people.
In 1999 I read a book that shook the foundations of my life and my ministry. The book was SoulTsunami by Len Sweet, and in many ways it was a supplementary text for a Jesus Revolution- the primary text being, of course, the Bible. I have re-read it several times since and even though a number of years have passed (and part of the book is a bit dated- we don't worry too much about Y2K anymore) the book still challenges me in many ways. One of the things that has always stuck with me has been Len's remarkable breakdown of that old classic, The Golden Rule. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This ancient idea is found in the writings of many of the world's religions, and is written in various ways and forms by several Old Testament writers. Jesus himself references it in Matthew 7:12. It has worked itself into our society in a variety of ways. For instance, many sportsmanship codes tell us to "do right, do our best, and treat others as we wish to be treated." It is a part of our legacy as a church that we believe that if we obey The Golden Rule, we are loving people the way Jesus taught.
Not so fast, my friends. The Golden Rule was NOT his final word on the subject. Remember, Jesus told everyone who would listen that he came to bring a new covenant. He taught over and over again that we should put the needs of others ahead of our own. And that is the underlying problem with The Golden Rule. Sweet writes, "It places first what Jesus says should come last: ME!" It puts my likes and my preferences front and center and lets me off the hook when it comes to people I don't care about. By the letter of the rule, I only have to feel and do for others what I want them to feel and do for me. If I dislike you and don't care how you feel about me, then I am welcome to treat you badly. I only have to love you if I want you to love me back. It's all about me. That's easy. I can do that. But Jesus changes the rules. He tells us to do unto one another as He has done for us. Or to give you His exact words (John 13:34-35), "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." That's a whole new ballgame. Jesus loved us so much that he put our needs first, choosing to die so that our sins might be forgiven and we could be right with God the Father again. As Len says in SoulTsunami, this is beyond golden. This is a major upgrade. This is The Platinum Rule! And it asks a big question of all of us- are we willing to lay down EVERYTHING so that others may know the love of Christ?
Want to see how The Platinum Rule works? Just think about your church. When it comes to worship styles, meeting times, music and even where they sit, are people (including you) willing to set aside their own traditions and preferences so that your community may know the love of Christ? Or do they cling to power and control so that things will be done "their way?" Are you still in the mode of "If we build it or plan it, they will come" or do you take Jesus to the streets? Is your church home to a diversity of races, political views and social-economic groups, or are you open only to those who look and think like you? Do you welcome "the least of these" into your midst, or do you seek out only those who feel "safe" to you? The Jesus Revolution (and The Platinum Rule) reminds us that loving God and loving others are the only things that really matter- and we are not given the option of choosing which others we love. It must be everyone. And I'm just not sure that is possible if we are happy with treating others the way WE want to be treated...
Are you ready to trade your gold card for the upgraded platinum model? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone so that others may know Jesus? It's time. The revolution is calling!
Because of Jesus,