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. – Matthew 7:12-14
One of today’s lectionary readings is this passage taken from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Often referred to as the “golden rule,” Jesus places this capstone on His sermon by explaining to His followers that they can fulfill the law by treating others with the same actions they would like to be treated with.
This idea certainly isn’t unique to Christianity, and is one I remember encountering in my earliest childhood memories long before I became a Christian. I vividly remember my third grade teacher had a big golden star on the wall with this very rule, “treat others as you want to be treated,” written in the middle, hanging on the wall for all the kids to see. It’s probably the closest to a universal human value one could come up with.
But yet Jesus urges his followers to see that this is a much harder commandment to fulfill than we may realize. We are told that we have to enter through the narrow gate, that this path will be more difficult, and it will be challenging to find.
This presents us with an opportunity to really reflect on this teaching: do we really do to others as we would have them do to us?
How do we actually want to be treated by others? How do we treat ourselves? Where in our lives might we need more compassion and forgiveness? For ourselves? For others?
What might this commandment look like in our current pandemic? In response to the Black Lives Matter movement? How do we fight systemic oppression while still loving others?
How might we approach this passage with fresh eyes in our life today?
Main image: René Magritte, Not to be Reproduced.