Living as a Kingdom Citizen
The spirit of the statement" Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is found throughout the Bible. The closest example of the statement is found in what is referred to as the "Sermon on the Mount". In Matthew 7:12 we find "In everything therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets". (New American Standard) It is important to keep in mind the context in which the statement is found.
Throughout this scorching sermon of Jesus, the hearers and by extension the readers, are called to a life that seems impossible, namely the life of a "Kingdom Citizen". The Kingdom of God, which is the major theme in much of Jesus teaching, is both a here and now reality; in my opinion. Not only are we looking with great anticipation towards the Kingdom of God to come but here and now we are to live as citizens of that Kingdom.
What is it about Jesus that drives Him to persistently take things to the next level? Throughout the Scriptures and especially the Sermon on the Mount we see this take place. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has consistently penetrated into the very heart of man, leaving no room for the self-delusion of piety and scorching our very heart just as we think we are truly the "Light of the World". But why is it that he places these great expectations on us who are weak, feeble, sinful people? I mean does He really expect us to be Kingdom citizens here and now? When is the last time you rejoiced in a time of persecution, how many people see you as a light in the community, how often do you find yourself praying for and loving your enemies, how many times have you lusted in your heart, how many cloaks have you given and how many miles have you walked? Do we really have the means to live as Kingdom citizens?
This is important for us to consider because the "Golden Rule" is not really a way of life that can easily be chosen and brought to fruition. Nevertheless ,I propose that living in such a manner is in fact possible and Jesus does expect it. Yet, it will only be possible on a consistent basis by those who are citizens of God's Kingdom. In other words, those who have placed their trust in Christ as Lord and Savior and have the indwelling power of the Holy spirit can live in a manner worthy of the King. The principle, as alluded to earlier, is found throughout Scripture as seen in the following references; Leviticus 19:18, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, Deuteronomy 5:14, and Luke 6:31. Furthermore, when Jesus said "For this is the Law and the Prophets", he is essentially saying that this is the fulfillment of of the will of God as revealed in the Old testament Scriptures. Consider this,Jesus could have said "Do unto others what they do to you" or "Do unto others before they do to you", or as Confucius said, "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others". Obviously, most of us can identify the problem with the first two options; however, when we come to the statement by Confucius we may be hard pressed to identify the difference in the two perspectives. The philosophy which we choose to own will make all the difference.
This article was originally written to answer a two part question, the second part being,"SHOULD THERE BE AN EXPECTATION THAT IF YOU DO RIGHT BY OTHERS THEN THEY WILL DO RIGHT BY YOU?". Answering this I believe requires that we understand how Jesus took a rather proactive approach to life. As a Kingdom citizen we aren't merely to abstain from doing wrong to others, on the contrary, Kingdom citizens are to actively seek opportunities to act in a manner that rightly represents their King. Sure, this manner of life will certainly include abstaining from wrong doing to others, yet, it is so much more. Jesus calls us to a life that actively seeks opportunities to do good to others. In doing so we rightly represent our mighty King before a people who need to know Him in the same manner that we do.
May we never grow weary of well doing, for when we act sacrificially before others we are most closely resembling our Savior!