When I was a kid the local Coca Cola Bottling Company gave a six pack of Coke to any student who presented a report card with 5 A’s during a grading period. Back then, at least in my household, soda was a special treat. My family simply didn’t buy soft drinks, even on birthdays! Coke also gave us a wooden ruler with Coca Cola Bottling Company stamped on the back side and the Golden Rule imprinted upon the front. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It wasn’t until years later that I appreciated the marketing genius—The Golden Rule stamped on a ruler!
Jesus was not the first to teach this principle. It is found in most major religions of the world. The difference, though, is that Jesus, rather than formatting it in the negative, as in, “Do not do to others what you would not want them do to you,” framed it in the positive! Rather than not doing harm, Jesus told his followers not only to do no harm, but to actively do good! This is a very big difference. The former allows us to withdraw from the world while The Golden Rule pushes us into the brokenness of the world. The first allows us to believe that because we haven’t done anything “bad”, we are sin free. Before I took Jesus seriously, this was my thought. I considered myself to be a pretty good guy. But pretty good isn’t good enough. Life isn’t graded on a curve. I was being passive and letting myself off of the hook, not an active disciple of Jesus.
Active discipleship lies at the heart of Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan. In the parable, the priest and the Pharisee didn’t do anything wrong, per se. But they didn’t they didn’t do anything right, either. They did not help the beaten, bloodied, left for dead traveler. That was their bad.
Disciples of Jesus must not settle for “doing no harm.” We are called to do good, even when it doesn’t directly involve us. When we do, That’s when we become a glimpse of grace.