You are the Light of the World
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
And from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Today is a dialogue sermon. What is a dialogue sermon? Pastor
O’Neal and I study the Biblical text for the sermon.
After each one of us has studied the text, we then get
together for conversation. We talk the Biblical text through. We
share our feelings, observations, what this text originally meant,
what it means today, how it applies to our lives. In other words, we
gradually figure out a sermon. We try to recreate the best parts of
our dialogue for the Sunday morning sermon.
Christians, that’s you and me, are disciple of Jesus Christ.
Do you remember what our 4th purpose is?
You know, in “The Purpose Driven Life” we studied
discipleship – you were created to become like Christ!
A congregation is a discipleship training lab where we study
the teachings of Jesus and practice them.
As a Purpose Driver Church: Bethlehem LC in Minneapolis says
they are a: Center for Discipleship and Mission for Jesus Christ.
One of our purposes in life is to become true disciples of
Jesus, that is, we learn from Him and put into practice what we
learn. As a result, we
grow to be more like Him every day.
That’s what discipleship is.
On that topic, William Barclay, a famous author and teacher of the
Bible, tells the story about an old gruff college professor. One
time, someone came up to this college professor and said, “I know
one of your students by the name of John Doe.” The college
professor replied in a gravelly voice, “He attends my classes but
he is not one of my students.”
You see, the old college professor made a clear distinction
between a person who merely sat in on lectures of the teacher and
a person who really learned what the professor was saying. For the
old college professor, there was an enormous difference in being an
attender of a class and a disciple and true learner. Similarly, as
Christians, we are disciples of Christ. We are not merely attenders
of worship; we don’t merely sit in on classes. Rather, we are
students of Christ. We immerse ourselves in the words and wisdom of
Jesus. We become followers of Christ, and we
follow his teachings.
Today we are taking a look at one of the fundamental, foundational
teachings of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount.
Over the years it’s been referred to as the Golden Rule.
Many of you know the Golden Rule.
Most people whether they go to church or not know the Golden
Rule. Please complete
the following sentence….Do onto others as ………..you would
have them do onto you. Let’s repeat the Golden Rule. Do onto
others as… It’s a
part of our American culture. Many
people have no idea that it came from Jesus teaching or that it’s
religious in origin but just about everyone knows
the Golden Rule. Following
it, however, is another story.
John, why is this teaching called the Golden Rule? What is golden
about it? Why not silver or bronze? Why gold?
Well, I think it is a very fitting and appropriate name for this
rule!” Gold is one of
the most valuable metals in the world and has been for centuries. It has incredible value for a variety of reason.
Not only is it beautiful to look and so is used for jewelry
of all different kinds but it has properties that make it very
useful for other things as well.
From my background in electronics, I know that Gold is one of
the finest conductors of electricity.
It’s great for electronic contacts because of that and
because it doesn’t tarnish and is very durable.
If you want the best connectors you want gold or at least
gold plated. If you go to buy cables for your DVD player and you want the
best, you get the ones that have the gold plated connectors.
Even on my cell phone the connectors where it connects to the
charger are gold plated. There
are other metals used in electronics such as copper and silver.
These are great conductors of electricity but they will
tarnish and corrode whereas Gold will not.
So, what this name, The Golden Rule, says to me is that this
rule is beautiful and durable, is very useful and practical, and it
will stand the test of time.
Gold has been the most valuable metal during human history. This is
true for all societies, all cultures, and all civilizations.
Humans have pursed gold from the dawn of human civilization.
Think of the ancient Egyptians and King Tututkamen’s gold mask.
Remember that all the Egyptian kings were buried with their gold
trinkets and gold ornaments and gold jewelry. Think of the Spanish
conquistadors sailing the Atlantic in search of this precious gold.
Think of the ancient Inca civilizations here in America and their
hordes of gold. Think of the gold rush in California in 1849. Think
of Fort Knox and the gold bars. Think of the gold standard and
financial trade throughout the world today. Throughout all human
history and human civilization, gold has been the most desired and
valuable metal. There is not metal as precious as gold.
The Golden Rule is the fundamental moral principle for all human
beings stated in the positive.
It’s not just about refraining from hurting others or treating them poorly.
It’s about doing something positive. Jesus
onto others… It’s
about positive action!
Other religions of the world and their religious philosophers have
taught this rule but in a negative form. Do not.
Do not harm. Do not cause pain. Let’s briefly hear the
negative form in other world religions. The HINDU religion taught:
“This is the sum of duty: do nothing to others which if done to you would cause you
pain.” Do not do
anything to cause pain to another. Don’t do the negative. But
Jesus stated his moral principle positively. Do onto others.
BUDDHIST religion taught. Hurt not others with that which
JEWISH traditions and the Talmud taught: “What is hateful to you, do
not to your fellow men. That
is the entire Law; all the rest is comment.” Again, do not do the
teaches: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his
brother that which he desires for himself.
The BAHA'I faith and the Book of Certitude teaches: “He should not
wish for others that which he does not wish for himself, nor promise
that which he does not fulfill.” Again, do not do the negative.
Other great philosophers:
“Do not do unto others what angers you if done to
you by others. A fable: "Tzu-kung asked, 'Is there a single
word which can be a guide to conduct throughout one's life?' The
Master said, 'It is perhaps the word "shu".
Do not impose on others what you yourself do not
These religious teachers have taught a similar philosophy to
Jesus but always in the negative. That is why their moral precepts
are called the “silver rules.” Those silver rules are good but
not as good as gold. Their teaching was in the negative form (do
not) but Jesus taught the same truth in a positive form (do).
That is why Jesus’ teaching is called the golden rule.
Not doing something bad to a
person is not the same as doing something positive for them. It’s
somewhat easy and expected for emotionally healthy human beings to
avoid doing something bad toward another person.
In most civilized cultures this is pretty much expected; but
it is something quite different to do something positive for that
person. Do you
see the difference? Not
doing harm vs. doing something good?
It’s very different. Doing
good takes more effort and energy than refraining from evil.
Yes, there is a huge
difference between not causing someone harm and doing
something positive for that person. To help us understand this
difference, the British scholar Barclay uses the simple analogy of
driving a car. That is, I
can drive my car in such as way that I do not harm people with my
driving. I simply drive on the right side of the road and stop for
all stop signs. But it is quite another thing to drive my car and
pick up someone to take them to the doctor or drive my neighbor to a
food bank. It is one
set of attitudes and behaviors that avoids hurting people with my
car; it is another set of attitudes and actions that actually go out
of the way to help people with my car.
Martin Luther took the same
approach in his explanations of the Ten Commandments in his Small
Commandments are phrased in the negative
- Thou shall not…Luther in his explanations always stated
part of the meaning in the positive.
He taught what we are not to do, but then taught us what we
are to do. The only exception is the first commandment where he
stated the meaning in the positive only.
John, you are teaching the Ten Commandments and their meanings
to the sixth graders during
the Wednesdays of Lent.
Let’s apply Luther’s explanations to three of the Ten
Commandments. What you are not to do. What you are to do.
The second commandment is: “You shall not take the name of
the Lord in vain.”
Here Luther begins his usual
pattern where he states the meaning in the negative – what we are
not to do – but then always follows that up with what we are to do.
for the second Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the
Lord your God in vain. Luther
follows the question, What does this mean: by saying:
We are to fear and love God so that we do not use His name
superstitiously, or use it to curse, swear, lie, or deceive, (that’s
what we are not to do – negative) but
call upon Him in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.(that’s
what we are to do).
The third commandment:
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep is holy.
What does this mean? We are to fear and love God so that we do not neglect His Word and the preaching of it, (don’t do)
but regard it as holy and
gladly hear and learn it.(do)
The fifth commandment: You
shall not kill.
You shall not kill. What
does this mean? We
are to fear and love God so that we do not hurt our neighbor
in any way, but help him
in all his physical needs. This
is the one that really parallels the Golden rule.
Not just don’t hurt others but help them.
It’s a positive action!
really understood that there is a difference between refraining from
doing wrong and doing the right thing.
And he understood the commandments in this way.
We are to do good
not just refrain from
Let’s go in a different
direction. This Golden Rule by Jesus is found in the earliest strata
of NT, Q. Q are the 200 Bible verses common to Matthew and Luke and
they were written before the gospels and before the letters of the
Apostle Paul. These words were written in about 40 CE. Q is the
earliest teaching document which records the words of Jesus. This
golden rule is the earliest moral teaching of Jesus that summarizes
the whole Old Testament. There are 39 books in the Old Testament,
and Jesus summarized all 39 books of the Old Testament with the
Golden Rule: “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.
This fulfills the Law and the Prophets.” … Do you realize that before
Jesus, nobody had ever spoken the words of the golden rule?
Nobody. Jesus was the first person to speak those profound
and simple words which we live by. We sometimes forget that Jesus
was the fountainhead, the originator, the creator of these profound
Golden Rule is closely connected to other golden rules –the only
commandment Jesus ever gave us is: love
one another as I have loved you.
Or, Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
The problem here is how we, in our modern culture, understand
the word “love.” For us, the word “love” is too rapped up in feelings,
emotions, and attitudes. These
are great things but love according to the Bible is active.
It is a verb. It
has to do with what we do. Feelings,
attitudes, and emotions are great but if they don’t lead to any
positive action on our part, is that how Jesus intended us to
No. Not at all. Christians,
followers of Christ, DO for others. In Q and in the Sermon on the
Mount, here in Matthew 7, we hear Jesus use the word, “do”
eleven times. Eleven times in one chapter: DO!’ “Be doers
of the word and not hearers only.” Or.
“No every one who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the
kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my Father.”
Or. “He who hears these words of mine and does them is like
a man who build himself a house on the rock.” Eleven times in one
chapter: be doers of the word.
I always ask, what does this
mean for my life? For
Your life? The Golden
Rule. Do onto others as you
would have them do to you. Ed what does that mean for you?
Jesus is giving me a clear
moral principle by which to live my life as his disciple. What do I
want other people to do onto me? How do I want them to treat me?
Love, respect, kindness, forgiveness for my sins and imperfections,
patience, honesty. Also, I need them to help me out when I am in a
jam and I can’t solve a problem myself. That is what I want from
other people. This is the way that God asks me to treat all people.
Doing for others means for me to be pro-actively positive to people
around me. What does this moral teaching of Jesus mean for you,
Well, it’s pretty much the
same for me. I want
people to treat me with respect, and love, and simple kindness. And when I’m in a jam, I would hope that someone would help
me out. I remember when
I loved in Anacortes and was trying to start up a business.
There really wasn’t enough money for me to take a salary in
the beginning so I only took what I barely needed to pay the rent.
I wasn’t eating very well.
Someone from my church knew that and would occasionally and
anonymously leave a bag of groceries on my doorstep for me. Boy did I appreciate that!
Therefore, I need to do things like that for others.
And we have lots of examples of that kind of goodness and
kindness right here at Grace!
We see so many stories of
“doing for others.” I think of Otto Wieland in our church and
how he has cared for so many people, taking care of Lee Llanes when
she died, being a sponsor through the AA program, making breakfast
for the men. I think of Karen Frenk in Kid Reach and how I see her
tutoring her child in the alcove across from my office, in the
summer time. The
stories are endless. All the grandparents raising and taking care of
their grandchildren. These are all positive actions.
Or I think of John Santo
driving John Cawsey all the way to Mount Vernon for his cancer
treatments every week for 6 weeks.
Or stories of people preparing meals for people who are going
through difficult times, or friend to friend where people visit
John, Dick Lehman emailed us
a joke the other day and I think it works well here.
That was a good one. Can I
driver did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk even though he
could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the
The tailgating woman behind him went ballistic, pounding on her horn
screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to drive through
intersection with him.
Still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into
face of a very serious police officer The officer ordered her to
car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she
searched, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened
door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting
was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, "I'm awfully sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled
your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping the guy off in
you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life'
license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper sticker, the
Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian
emblem on the trunk."
"Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car."
laughter, people like the joke)
Yes, Christians are invited
to be disciples of Christ, to follow Christ and his example of love
and doing positively for others. It is easy to slap a bumper sticker
about love on the back of one’s car. It is another matter to “do
for others and you would have them do for you.”
I think that is the Golden
It is made of pure