Couched towards the end of Jesus’s revolutionary and religion-shattering Sermon on the Mount is what we have come to know as the Golden Rule. In Matthew 7.12, Jesus says, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Although stated in other ancient sources of moral wisdom and even in Buddhism and Hinduism, this precept is stated positively only by Jesus. All other sources contained the negative perspective: what you don’t want men to do to you, don’t do it to them.

Jesus’ words turn the tables, much as His entire message on the hillside did to Judaism. Notice in Matthew 5-7 how many times He said, “You’ve heard it said… but I say to you…” He is redefining the divine intent behind the commandments. How often we all reduce our responsibilities to the bare minimum. Our children are excellent at saying, “But you saaaiiiidddd…” with the uncanny ability at turning the word “said” into a three-syllable utterance.

They learn it from us, for we are professionals at half-way living. We offer others only what we feel they should expect from us and no more. That’s why in the world of customer service it’s so shocking to see a company, restaurant, or institution going the extra mile to serve you – to give you more than what you expect.chickene.jpg

That’s one of the reasons Caro and I love Chicken Express. I first encountered its golden-fried goodness in 1991 during my move to Granbury, Texas. I was setting up shop at the Happy Hill Children’s Home to be a living unit coordinator, which meant that I was one of the singles responsible for a cottage of junior high boys. There in Granbury was the CE; everyone talked about it, but this Arkansas boy had never been exposed to it.

The beautiful thing about CE is that when you order a four-piece chicken strip meal, odds are, you’ll get 5-6 chicken strips. Sometimes you’ll even find seven and an extra biscuit in your basket. We thought we’d ripped them off the first time we ate there. It was with a knowing smile that the attendant replied, “No, that’s just how we do things here.”

Needless to say, we eat at CE whenever we’re in Texas if we can. Imagine what life would look like for you today if you really applied Jesus’ teaching (and command!) to your ways. To actually do to others what you want them to do to you…Here’s a quick list I compliled as I considered what I desire from other people:

  • Boxes and boxes of Archer Farms Holiday Snack Nuts (see entry below)
  • Respect
  • Appreciation
  • Active care for me and my family
  • Encouragement and challenge for me to grow in my relationship with Christ
  • Fair treatment
  • To speak about me in ways that build me up and further my ability to influence people
  • Recognition of my achievements
  • True concern for my well-being

You see, I have high expectations from you! Now, as I begin to meditate on and occasionally add to that list, I am forced by the purity and power of Christ’s command to use these expectations as a template for my treatment of others.

Christ demonstrated an entirely different life perspective and commands that His followers adopt it. It’s not about what others can do for you. Hey pew sitter, it’s not about what your church has to offer. Robert F. Kennedy had it right when he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”

Jesus did not define a radical type of Christian life. He described what should be normative for His people. I should live our multiple-trip-to-Wal-Mart week thinking about how I can respect _____ more. (You fill in the blanks of the first person that comes to your mind.) Just go down the list above. How can I appeciate ______ more? Show them true concern? Encourage them to grow in Christ (or to consider the teachings and person of Christ at all)?

So what’s your list?

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