Monday, April 9, 2012

Junk Mail and Jesus

Jesus said, “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)

A version of the Golden Rule is found in the scriptures of at least seven major world religions and in the ethical teachings of scores of great philosophers throughout history. The one major difference is Jesus puts this statement in to a positive context, rather than negative.

In-other-words, Jesus says treat others how you want them to treat you, whereas other religions place it in the negative, treat others how they have already treated you. Even so, it is considered the simplest statement of ethics ever conceived. Its widespread acceptance speaks of a universal truth—people just want to be treated like people.

The human dimension is fast disappearing from much of humanity. Our existence is now defined as a series of numbers - Social Security, bank account, license plate, driver's license, credit card, church tithing envelope number, etc. We get telemarketing calls from computers. We belong to social networks in order to keep current with friends...a very depersonalized way of staying in touch. We email, facebook, text, twitter, and tweak each other. (OK, maybe I made that last one up.) And, perhaps the greatest insult of all, is that our genetic makeup is being mapped. Once our DNA is mapped, we will lose all individuality. Can you imagine me being cloned?! Woo boy. That’s all we need is a bunch of "mes" running around. All though...a couple of extra "yous" would help with the BIP this Sunday! Nonetheless, all that makes us truly human - spirit, soul, and the image of God - is being replaced by bits and bytes of digital information. We are truly being objectified.

The illustrations may be new, but the tendency to treat people like objects isn't. Even Jesus' disciples were more concerned about using a blind man as a theological case study than they were about his need to be healed (see John 9:2). How do you see people? When you relate to them, is it to meet your needs or theirs? Have you put the Golden Rule into practice this week? Cassatt, Camden, Columbia, and for that matter our country, could use a little more “golden ruling!”

I hate junk mail. (Are preachers allowed to say hate?) Most of it ends up in the round file pretty quick. Last week I had a letter from Bestbuy. Typical junk coupons, I thought. “50% off. On 1 package of chewing gum with a $500 purchase.” But I opened it anyway. It was a ten dollar gift card. Not a coupon. A gift card! As good as cash. I had to think, do I treat people like I treat junk mail? Do you? Do we cast them away before we know what is on the inside? As you look through your mail box and sort out the unsolicited junk mail, be wary. If all that electronic wizardry makes you feel depersonalized, be very careful and think; you may be treating others the same way.

Food for thought,

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