Enough said. Now back to the hidden, tiny, personal yeast of the Golden Rule and its surprising power to make change for good.
Slavery was seemingly untouchable, impossible to change. Then came these words, “Not Greek or Jew, not male or female, not slave or free man, all are one in Christ.”
Historians tell us that during the first century when Christians were meeting only in their houses, they invited slaves into their homes! Incredible! Christians were thinking, “If I were a slave, would I want to hear about Jesus Christ, would I want that inspiration, would I want that comfort?” So they invited slaves to come into their homes for Bible studies and meals, and that was the beginning.
Now, God knows, it took a long, long time—almost 2,000 years—for that yeast to work its way into the glob. But finally, there was a time when William Wilberforce, Tom Clarkson, and William Pitt determined, as Christians, to eradicate slavery in the great British Empire. Wilberforce was sick and dying the day the others came and excitedly announced, “We did it! Today our parliament has acted! Today slavery is eradicated forever from the great British Empire.” End of slavery! An awesome change for humanity! It was 30 to 40 years later when we got rid of it in the United States. Slavery was ended here too led by committed Christians who lived the Golden Rule and asked in their conscience, “Would I want to be a slave?”
Without contradiction or doubt, slavery was eradicated finally because of Christians and their Golden Rule. Christians said, “I can’t get it out of my mind. It’s so good, so pure, just so right that people should treat other people the way they themselves want to be treated.” And finally, slavery was on its way out of the human race. And with it went a terrible world of cruelty, pain, shame, and heartache.
In my mind, knowing the enormous, selfish benefits of slavery, this was truly an astonishing achievement! The power of the yeast!
And the Golden Rule wasn’t just about slavery. It was about babies too.
In the Roman world, when a woman had a baby, she took it to the husband and he might say, “yes, keep it,” or “no, get rid of it.” If he said no, she had no choice. She would leave with the baby. There were a couple of big curbings in Rome. She would take the baby there and leave it to die unless someone came along and looked at it and said, “Now there is a strong little boy, I will raise him as a gladiator” and they took the baby. Or someone might say, “There is a cute little girl. I will raise her as a whore.” According to William Barclay, some others would take a girl and jerk her limbs apart so she was horribly disfigured, making a heart-breaking beggar out of her. A beggar chief could drag her around and use her to raise money. Magicians would take the marrow out of the baby’s bones or brain for some of the things they wanted to do. Professor Barclay said that “nobody owes more to Christianity than babies do.” The yeast—the power — of the Golden Rule is changing the world of babies even today.
For women, it was the same thing. For example, even a Jew, the first thing in the morning, would pray, “Great Jehovah, thank you so much that I am not a Gentile. Thank you so much that I am not a slave. Thank you Lord ever so much that I am not a woman!” Women were treated as a whole lot less important than men. She was degraded and considered second rate in every way.
Some Christians asked, “How would I want to be treated if I were a woman?” And from then till even today, the Golden Rule has been changing the world of girls and women. Thank God.
The Golden Rule has been changing the world of workers. Again, the question was simply this: “How would I want to be treated if I were a worker?” That question was now in the conscience of powerful people, whereas once that thought had never occurred to them. Thank God for the change.
Everywhere, people of conscience, touched by the Golden Rule, are changing our globe, the glob. That yeast has transforming power!
I think many times of the way people were treated in the past if they were mentally disabled, insane, or in prison. The treatment was horrible beyond words. Sometimes, people even went to prisons to be entertained by watching the prison-keeper torture or make fun of people who weren’t wired right in their heads. Some way to spend an afternoon.
But finally, Christians said, “If I had some wiring wrong in my head, how would I want to be treated?” A new thought, completely foreign to ancients. The Golden Rule, the Great Commandment, says love others, treat others as you would yourself would want to be treated. That yeast is changing our world. The glob—globe of bread dough—is being leavened, person by person, by that incredible, tiny bit of yeast—11 words! Recently, I came across a book, The World is Learning Compassion, by Frank Lauderback. I want to read you just a bit of what he says,
It’s a new thing. A wonderful thing. A world transforming thing. It’s that the compassionate Jesus has broken all bounds. He is now revolutionizing all attitudes of the whole world. The fact that two-thirds of the human race live in miserable poverty isn’t new. It’s as old as the human race. The new thing is that both the people who have and the people who have not are really trying to do something to wipe out that poverty and misery. This is new. It’s the most amazing fact of our era. It’s reaching out to change the whole planet.