These three simple rules are time-tested since the days of Scripture. As I read this book, I was struck by several questions from the author of the book as well as those that came to my head. One of which was, “Are we really measuring up to our calling as children of God?” This is tough for Christians in the day and time in which we are living, since society is telling us that most things that we would consider sinful and immoral are OK and acceptable. As I continued to read on, I was reminded of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. In Colossians 3:12-14, we find that we are not the first to struggle with faithfulness. If we are to live in a world that is in stark contrast to what we believe, we have to face the world with the gifts and fruits that the Holy Spirit empowers us with. We find those fruits in Galatians 5:22-26.
As I think about the world we live in, the first simple rule that I want to focus on is “Do No Harm.” This is tough for us to do but it is so simple to understand. Think about how often we may harm someone. We may get upset at someone, curse someone, use obscene gestures, say things about other, lie, cut someone off as we drive, cheat in some fashion and much more. To do no harm means for us to think before we act or react. When we agree in our lives not to harm, it opens up great possibilities for us to love our neighbor as Christ commanded. When we do no harm, we change the climate of our lives to where, as Bishop Ruben Job who wrote the book says, we can no longer gossip, speak disparagingly about someone, manipulate the facts and diminish others. As a child of God, we can not allow ourselves to injure or harm another, no matter what we feel they have done to us.
That fact is hard for us because we are taught to take care of number one. Recently, I had a friend who was mentally, verballyand emotionally attacked by someone they had considered a friend. This really tore down my friend. But my friend relied upon His faith in the face of what was taking place and chose the high road and is now praying for this person. I admire how my friend can do this because he is choosing to do no harm, even though harm was done to him. For us to agree to do no harm means that we will allow “God to empower and lead the faithful.” To be like my friend means we have to be radical in our faith, our trust and our obedience to God.
Another reason why we find it hard to do no harm to others is, as Bishop Job writes, is that instead of binding ourselves to Christ, we bind ourselves to ideologies or theologies. In other words, “our way” of being a Christian is right and we can’t consider God’s way could be different. We have to consider the words of Christ in Luke 14 when He reminds us of the cost of being a disciple (v. 28, 33). If we are truly Christians and not in name only, we are to Love God with all our being and love our neighbor as ourselves. Christ is the One who showed us just how great God’s love, goodness and grace are to all of us. The choice to follow and accept Christ as our example is “too frightening and demanding for many.”
We are called to be radical people though. Recently in a Bible study at church, we discussed how Jesus shared the radical example of Love in the face of betrayal. Knowing that the weight of all of our sins was on Him, even though He asked if there was another way, He stayed true to the Father’s plan and died for our sakes. If we were to do no harm, we would have to be as radical as Christ and abandon the ways of the world but we love it way too much. When we allow sinful and immoral behaviors to be accepted socially then we are allowing the world to dictate the way of our lives rather then letting Christ be the example and guide. It is challenging for us to do this simple rule. When one looks in the Gospels, we find that “Christ taught and practiced a way of living that did no harm.”
Recently, we held our annual conference at the Mary Helen United Methodist Church. There were two things I heard there that have been in my mind since. First, was a list of things that we as Christians need to be doing to keep people excited about being Christians. They were 1) Light a Fire, 2) Give Attention, 3) Nurture Relationships. These are the things we ought to be doing in the first place and when we do, we can not help but do no harm to others. The other thing was the mission statement of the church; it states “We are to create disciples in Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.” When we do no harm to others, when we love them as Christ loves us, then the world truly does get transformed through each and every live that comes to meet God. As God blesses us with each new day, we need to look upon each person we meet as another Child of God, no matter what they may have done to us in the past and love each person enough to do no harm to them but rather attempt to help build up their life so that Christ can be glorified not us. I hope we each have the chance to work on doing no harm to others and helping to transform the world through Christ. God Bless.
(All quotes are taken from Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living by Bishop Ruben Job)