reason4thehope

Thinking about life, faith and the world.

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

How to Be Golden

"The Golden Rule" mosaic

Photo credit: Wikipedia

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

If you read the words of Jesus too fast, they seem to be full of non sequiturs. That word “so,” sometimes translated as “therefore,” keeps popping up in the oddest places. Look at the Golden Rule, Matthew 7:12:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)

“So”? Context is everything.  Immediately before this, Jesus was speaking of how, just as parents give good things to their children who ask, God will do the same to His followers who ask. So, the Golden Rule is about imitating a human parent’s acts of love toward a child, or God’s acts of love toward His adopted children.

Read the Golden Rule out of context, and it can come off as an implied quid pro quo. You want other people to be nice to you, be nice to them. But in a parent-child relationship, chances are the child brings nothing tangible that the parent needs. And yet, the parent gives with no guarantee of anything in return, only the hope of the child’s continued love and obedience.

So it is with us and God. We bring nothing that He needs, yet he gives, and He desires our love and obedience.

So do to others what you would have them do to you – not as a fair trade by the world’s reckoning, but even if they or you have nothing to give in return. Treat each need you meet as the need of a helpless child who may never repay you. Then you’ll be golden.

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So. What?

c. 1500-1510

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So weep not for me my friend when my time below does end,
For my life belongs to Him Who will raise the dead again – “All My Tears,” Julie Miller

So. Two letters, such a little word, but where you put it can make a world of difference. In the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, it threatens to break down the logic of the story.

It begins with Lazarus at death’s door. His sisters, Mary and Martha, know the one person who can shut that door. They have seen Jesus’ power, and they send for him. Here the story takes a curious turn. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.” (John 11:5-6 NASB)

“So?”

Jesus loves this family, so He waits for Lazarus to die before He shows up? You can read it that way and be bewildered, but only if you stop reading there.

Mary and Martha don’t know it, but Jesus has something much greater to show them than what they’ve already seen. Though the path to the revelation hurts them beyond measure, he loves them too much to hold back the fullness of His power.

When God takes us through suffering, we may struggle with the knowledge that He could set things right in an instant, but He seems to be doing nothing. We should rejoice, because He is leading us to something greater. And He’s not just waiting on the other side; He is sharing in our sufferings, as Jesus did when he gazed on the mourners around Lazarus’ tomb:  “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35).

To witness Jesus’ power over life and death was a privilege reserved for very few people during His time on earth. The good news for everyone who has received redemption through Jesus is this: their turn is coming. The passage of death ends for them just as it did for Lazarus. It’s only the wait that is longer.

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