How Would You Like It?

Readings: Isaiah 12: 2-6, Amos 8: 4-12, 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land,
saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain;
and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?
We will make the ephah small and the shekel great,
and practice deceit with false balances,
buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals,
and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

The time is surely coming, says the Lord God, when I will send a famine on the land;
not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea, from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it. Amos 8:4-6, 11-12

When I was acting less than neighborly to my siblings, friends, or schoolmates, my parents would turn the Golden Rule into a question: how would you like it? These five words were often followed by if he/she/they did that to you? I didn’t like that question because it showed me how my behavior hurt someone else. It also taught me a basic truth: I am connected to those around me.

Our sacred writings move the Golden Rule beyond behavior: Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Neighbor and God cannot be separated because the word of God to me is also and always the word of God to my neighbor. We are both children of God.

When all my thoughts are on making an extra buck by any means available, I become spiritually anorexic. If my greed forces my neighbor to go hungry, I become blind to the word of God only my neighbor can reveal to me. Who I am, who God is, and who my neighbor is are all related. If I pretend I can’t see the hunger and thirst of my neighbor, especially if I am part of its cause, I suffer a famine of the soul. No self help manual or mindfulness exercises will cure such a willful blindness. Either I see both God and neighbor, or I see neither.

I suspect the same is true for my neighbor.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Published by

Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “How Would You Like It?”

  1. Sometimes I “think” I love God with my mind—as a concept. When I feel God’s love and can love God as context, in my heart, the whole “love thing” changes, charges, challenges– this heart then cherishes God and the “other”–my sister, my brother. All come together into a whole as context (con–together; texere–to weave) so that there is no way to love God without loving myself and others. It just is not a possibility for me as much, sometimes, as I would like it to be. And it is not a possibility at all, of course, without God’s grace. That,to me, is what it means to walk in the Light. Your writing has stirred me up just in time for “Stir up Sunday”. Thank you, Johnna.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *