Matthew 7.6, 12-14
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
‘In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.
I wonder how many of us have had these words spring into our minds when we have felt some sense of injustice and pain that has been inflicted by others? These words of Jesus sound so eminently sensible, a pattern for daily living that must surely lead to world peace and universal tolerance.
Of course, we know that such a utopian dream is far from the reality of life in this world. People are intolerant, unjust and oppressive towards each other. Despite an abundance of resources, people still die of hunger. Violently partisan regimes still inflict pain and misery on vast numbers of people whom they perceive to be weak and incapable of effective resistance. So many still wander the world in confusion and despair as refugees and the dispossessed. The human race is, in reality, not very good at following Jesus’ reminder of the ancient law and the prophets: do to others as you would have them do to you.
Of course, the danger is that the injustices of this world are on such a vast scale that we do not consider them to be our responsibility. We do not persecute, deprive or dispossess … or do we? The civilized nations of this world, despite their inordinate wealth, place strict limits on humanitarian aid and the welcome they offer to refugees. Much political debate is devoted to justifying why the ‘civilized’ nations of the richest countries should not do to others in a spirit of Christian love. Even in our own daily and church lives we apply the pernicious principle of ‘Charity begins at home’ to the way in which we deal with those whose daily lives are lived out on a knife edge.
Adherence to Jesus’ teaching is difficult. It is difficult because it challenges us to do to others as a demonstration of our faith in God. God has provided us with much, Jesus invites us to share that bounty, but we struggle because we find it hard to trust that God will continue to love us as he has in the past. Or perhaps we do not believe that our ‘riches’ do indeed come from God in the first place!
I pray that we might truly set ‘self’ to one side and follow the words of Jesus. I pray that we might not fall short of his command due to greed and self-interest. I pray that we might demonstrate the depth of our faith by laying all before God and allowing him to guide us along the path of love and service to all.