Philippians 4:10–13

Jesus Christ, the Son in whom we are loved by the Father


Bulletin for: 
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Order of worship: 
Pastor to People: 

Do for others what you would like them to do for you (Matt. 7:12).

Recently I was asked to contribute an article to the Princeton Packet explaining what the Golden Rule means to me. I thought I would share a portion of it with you:

Democrats, do you think God loves Republicans? Republicans, do you think God loves Democrats?

Ours is a moment of contentious politics, and the Golden Rule provides a way forward. The words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:3–4 draw on the Golden Rule: Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. What an unexpectedly fresh spin on the Golden Rule! Paul connects it to true humility, which has nothing to do with make-believe inadequacy: imagine Einstein saying, “oh, I am not especially smart.” True humility is much more like self-forgetfulness: not getting hung up on yourself, but instead using who you are and what you are for the good of those around you.

Self-forgetful interest in others makes all the difference in the world. Take, for instance, the state of race relations in our country. Debby Irving, in her superb book Waking Up White, admits, “I‘ve been socialized to talk at someone, to prove a point or show off how much I know.” That attitude is in the air we breathe here in Princeton. Stone Hill elder Tone Bellamy stands out as a counter-example. He grew up in Trenton, and yet he has devoted time over the past six years to learn what an affluent white suburban guy like me thinks and feels. And I‘ve enjoyed immensely the process of learning from him as well. We were worlds apart, but there has been humble “Golden Rule” listening and healing and growing.

I don’t think it’s at all naïve to propose that we inject the same sort of humility into our political life together. During this contentious election year, what if we were to set the pace for a fresh round of civility? What if we really did listen to others the way we would like them to listen to us? That possibility is what the Golden Rule in Election Year 2016 means to me.