Sunday, May 12, 2013

Golden Rule

"In all you do, love your neighbor as you love yourself." -Jesus

Anyone who has grown up even remotely close to a Christian culture is familiar with the "Golden Rule." We know it in all its variations and applications and I think all of us who know it believe it to be true. However, who is actually practicing it in full?

Courtesy of "outside of the box sermon illustrations"

I am under the impression that at least in the Christian culture of the South, we have only been taught to fulfill one end of this two part recommendation for Jesus-living.

Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

How many of us actually love ourselves? The quick cerebral answer is "Yes, I love me" but I live in this world and I have seen how you show yourself love.I know it well because I have done the same thing.
We haven't learned to love ourselves from our pastors and elders. We probably haven't learned this from our parents or friends. It is hard to find a follower of Christ who actually believes and models the second part of this rule. 

We piously commit our lives to giving as much as we can of our time, money, and talents to our neighbors. In the churches and communities I have lived in I have seen people model loving your neighbor selflessly. But what about you?

Photo from Kim Prucha- Me refueling on a mission trip.
Jesus gave and gave and gave and guess what- he is the son of God. He can give so much more than we can. But have you ever noticed how many times Jesus stepped away from the crowds? He escaped for alone time over and over again. Even the son of God needed some time to recoup and refill after giving all that he could to those who needed him. After each time that he "went up the mountain to pray" he came down and performed his greatest miracles to date.

If he had to do it, people, so do we! I am beginning to think that we need to revisit this golden rule and try it backwards to forwards: As you love yourself, love your neighbor.

How do you love yourself? 

Me in Iona- I love myself by spending time alone with God in nature
I love myself by tending to my basic needs. I am no good to anyone when I am tired, hungry, or ill. Once those needs are taken care of sometimes I still just need to step away and spend some time with God, alone. I need to spend an afternoon taking care of me; cleaning up my apartment, painting, resting, reading a good book. 

I like to think of this practice as refueling love. When you are filled up with God's love then it simply pours out of you naturally. It overflows onto people and situations making your life exactly what it should be- a vessel for God's love. 

Yosemite- When you are full of love it pours out of you like this!
So many of us are not in balance with this golden rule. We pour out love but never stop to refuel. Imagine how much richer, fuller, more potent our attempts at loving our neighbor would be if we were fully engaged with loving ourselves. 

 When we are loving out of a fullness of being love then there is no deficiency. Loving your neighbor should not be a drain and doesn't have to be a burden.  I believe that if everyone got really good at loving themselves then we'd all be loving our neighbors so well that we wouldn't even have to plan to do it. It is time to practice loving yourself. How can you refuel right now?