The Golden Rule and Church in Modern America

By Mark Mangie. For those us who go to liturgical based churches, this Sunday’s Lectionary Gospel is Luke 6: 27-38. Translated: this is the Gospel that gives us the Golden Rule. “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6: 31. In our national cultural climate…the charged sermon alert light is flashing brightly. So even if it is…whatever side of the line you fall on…take it in stride. We have a commonality in our belief in God.

This Sunday should be a teachable moment. Within our society, we need to start rebuilding trust between us. That is tough to do when what we hear on television and social media is screaming, yelling, name calling, and vitriol way beyond what any of us would think possible.

Start with the premise that no two people will ever agree on all things. But what we can agree upon is, fundamentally, most people with whom we interact on a daily basis are good people. And good people can have differences of opinion on all sorts of topics...from which football team is the best to what kind of music is best to what is the best approach to issues surrounding immigration and other serious issues that divide us.

We can also agree that many people are passionate in their beliefs…and are not afraid to express those passions. Whether it is over a holiday dinner table or from a pulpit in a church, in a culture that is loud and boisterous and dynamic, we all take advantage of whatever platform is offered to us to express our opinion. And you know what? That’s okay. Our job is to listen, process, and come to our own conclusions. At the end of the day, it is just one person’s opinion among the billions of people on earth.

In our church, we are truly blessed. We had a bit of a rough patch immediately after the last election. It was painful. But we worked through it. For the most part, our respect and good feelings for those with whom we worship on a regular basis prevailed. Our church is a family. We see each other every week. We know each other’s families. We care about the daily problems each other face. We watched our children grow up and have children of their own. Why would we throw that away over a difference of opinion?

Just because you disagree with someone on a topic doesn’t mean you can’t like them. I like many people with whom I disagree. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have any friends because I tend to be disagreeable. The trick is to not demonize those with whom you disagree. Don’t call them names. Don’t denigrate their mental capacity. Don’t belittle their accomplishments or beliefs. They are entitled to their opinion just as you are entitled to yours. And all opinions need to be respected.

In other words, treat them the same way you would like to be treated by them…which brings us full circle back to Luke. Building trust among people is hard. But it is worth the effort. Luke’s Gospel is a good place to start.

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