Let’s turn to a most exciting part of the Golden Rule story; the astonishing power of the Golden Rule on a global scale!
It is a thrilling story that gives hope for the survival and success of humanity!
And you and I are a part of this never-to-be repeated story!
Yes, for anyone of us who searches for great meaning to life, whose heart longs for a cause greater than self, whose soul aches for justice and righteousness and for an opportunity to help change this world for good, here it is!
As this account unfolds, your heart may fill with joy. This is what you were born to do!
Are my words extravagantly overstating the truth? When you finish this message, come back and ask that question. And you will surely agree that you were not told the half of it!
In the past, there were great thinkers who intuitively felt the great possibilities of Jesus’s teaching and foretold its future influence. For example, U.S. founding father, Benjamin Franklin:
As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the system of morals and religion, as He left them to us, the best the world ever saw, or is likely to see. He who shall introduce into public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will revolutionize the world!
And U.S. President Thomas Jefferson:
Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appears to me so pure as that of Jesus. Had the doctrines of Jesus been preached always as pure as they come from His lips, the whole civilized world would now have been Christian!
Let us face the question, “If the Great Commandment and the Golden Rule are from the lips of Jesus and are the essence and meaning of Christianity, how could they be able to accomplish what Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson predicted and to revolutionize the world?”
Someone might add, “Peter, I think anyone would agree that Christianity has affected art, architecture, literature, and music, but you are suggesting that everyday life, how we deal with one another, the ‘real world’ of everyday living is changing because of Jesus Christ?” How?
How? How could Jesus’s words—from his lips—accomplish that?
The answer starts with Jesus asking the question recorded in Luke 13: “What is the Kingdom of God like?” If Jesus had asked you that question, what would you answer? What is the Kingdom of God like? Would your answer be, “like a bit of yeast in a glob of bread dough”?
Again, Jesus asked: “What illustration can I use to make it plain to you?” He explained, It’s like a bit of yeast that a woman put into a glob of bread dough. Till it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:20, 21).
|Note: The other illustration Jesus used in Matthew 13 and Luke 13 is as follows:|
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed—which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.
Jesus’s reference to a tree with birds in its branches reminds us of Ezekiel 31:2–6 and Daniel 4:14–22. Such a tree symbolized a great earthly government and reminds us of the thrilling promises of Isaiah 2:2–4 and Micah 4:1–4.
I guess we could sit and look at a glob of bread dough being leavened and ask, what is going to happen? Nothing apparently. You can sit and look at bread dough being leavened and it doesn’t look like anything is happening, but inside, the yeast is working. It actually is changing the bread! The yeast or leaven produces no big historical headlines, but marvelous change is occurring! That bread dough, without the yeast, is going to end up being a flat, tough bread, but because of the yeast, the very character of the bread dough is changing! It’s going to be soft and fluffy. The character of the glob will change. The yeast of our Christlike lives will change the world! “Till it all was leavened!” What a perfect illustration!
You may ask yourself, “But in the real world, how does that work? How does God’s Golden Rule Kingdom work in the real world?” A great historian has the answer. His name is Paul Johnson. He has written 50 books. One of his books, History of Christianity, is recognized by many as the finest one volume ever written about Christianity. Johnson says something that is absolutely stunning:
- Christianity’s outstanding moral merit is to invest the individual with a conscience and bid him follow it.
- Political and economic freedom—both spring from the workings of the Christian conscience as a historical force.
- It’s no accident that all of the implantations of freedom throughout the world have ultimately a Christian origin.
I read that, and I read it again. Then I read it some more. Stunning! Breathtaking!
My question is, when and how did Christ invest every Christian, every one of us, with a conscience and command us to follow it? And with the glob—the globe—being affected as a result? Again, what one idea would trigger the human conscience for good?
Answer: It happened that day when Jesus illuminated the Great Commandment by saying for the first time, “You must do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” No more a list of “do this” and “do not do this” to be obeyed automatically. Rather, “You figure it out. Do to others, according to your conscience, according to the way you would want to be treated.”
No rule for every issue of life, but depend on your Christian conscience and the Golden Rule. And as Jesus said, the Christian conscience guided by the Great Commandment, love, the Golden Rule, would affect people around the world! Even as that bit of yeast would leaven the whole glob of bread dough!
That day was the day the world started to change. Wouldn’t you love to have been there? Maybe feeling a breeze off the Sea of Galilee on your back, with you standing in the crowd facing the son of God. And as your eyes meet, He tells you emphatically, “You must now do to others as you want them to do to you.” Unforgettable words. Life-changing words. Yeast words.
True, many in history would fight those words and try to forget them and ignore their conscience. But Oliver Wendell Holmes knew this unchangeable psychological truth:
Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
Victor Hugo also knew that an idea might take time to work its power through the ossified thinking of completely self-centered people, but as he announced:
There is one thing stronger than the world and that is an idea whose time has come.
An idea! Stronger than the world!
I believe the 11 words of the Golden Rule encapsulate the love and wisdom of the Creator for the human race, and He correspondingly had created specific receptors for it in the human heart.
So when any sincere human hears and thinks of it, he or she will never be the same. In our hearts we know—we just know! — that this is the right and good way for us to live successful human lives. Many resist it, but it is always there, an idea that unconsciously inspires our acts of goodness, fairness, and peace between us and among us. I know of no other thought of such power, so straight from the heart of God—to us! To you and to me. The bit of yeast that affects the glob of dough.