The Tarnished Rule

Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Luke 6:31 (NLT)

Most of us have grown up knowing about the “Golden Rule,” as this verse is often called. It’s drilled into us from early childhood. Treating others right, with respect, is the way to go. It makes sense, really. We should always approach someone with respect, even in disagreement. So, this should be simple to follow, right? Nope.

In my experience, I can tell you that Christians stink at following this rule. Now, understand, I’m generalizing. There are decent, respectful people out there. But, I have been witness to Christians tearing into one another over a disagreement about chairs vs. pews in the church. I have first-hand heard people personally attacking one another because one of them had proposed selling the church organ, which didn’t work and hadn’t been played in over a decade. I’ve heard people call other Christians false, or ignorant, because they didn’t agree with their position on women in pastoral ministry. I’ve watched vegetarians say mean things about people that include meat in their diet – and vice versa. I’ve heard gossip. Oh, how I’ve heard gossip. Christians are really good at talking about each other to others. Rather than talking with the person who is somehow offensive to them, they instead talk to everyone else about how the person is offensive, and that they should be offended too.

It’s no wonder people are hesitant to join faith communities because the outside world is seeing these same things happen. They see the nastiness, and though they may like Jesus, they sure don’t want any part of His supposed followers.

So, where do we go from here? How do we correct this? It’s simple: Start taking the commands of Jesus seriously. If we don’t want to be gossiped about, then we must not gossip. If we don’t want to be called names, then never resort to personal attacks when arguing a point. If we view something differently than others, it is OK. Let me repeat that: It is OK to hold an opposing view. We must respect the person who believes differently than we do.

In short, we must follow the example of Jesus. He loved everyone. He treated everyone with respect. He didn’t slander others. He didn’t gossip. He didn’t go looking for a fight. Instead, He demonstrated patience, forgiveness, kindness, grace, love, and mercy. Follow His lead.

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