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Online Articles

Heavenly Power in Human Relations

"Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them." (Luke 6:31)

Jesus' dictum of human relationships is the "golden rule" of all ethics. Imagine what a wonderful world it would be if this was actually practiced!

In the debate between the militant atheist Christopher Hitchens and the apologist Dr. William Lane Craig, Mr. Hitchens said that Christianity's ethics are no better than other world religions. He attempted to show that what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:31; Matthew 7:12) about treating others is essentially no different than other major religious teachings.

Well, let's see…

Confucius: "Do nothing to your neighbor which afterward you would not have your neighbor do to you." (Analets 15:23)

Hinduism: "This is the sum of duty: do nothing unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." (Mahabharata 5.5157)

Buddhism: "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varqi 5:18)

Taoism: "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." (T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien)

Islam: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." (Sunnah)

Judaism: Jewish Rabbi Hillel, asked to teach the meaning of the Law standing on one foot, said: "What you hate yourself, do not to your neighbor. This is the whole Law. The rest is commentary." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)

Notice something profoundly different in Jesus' teaching versus these other religious teaching? Other religions emphasized simply avoiding harming someone, or at best, wishing for them what you would like for yourself.

Beyond polite ethics, Jesus Christ taught us to actively treat others, in all interactions, as you would want to be treated yourself, if the situation was reversed. This is sacrificial goodwill. This is another way of saying, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31). Loving God, which empowers love for others, is the highest goal of the New Testament (Mark 12:30).

Love is active, outgoing goodwill to seek the highest good of another. Love is undefeatable benevolence of doing them only good and not harm. This selfless altruistic goodwill of love can only be learned and empowered from the God of perfect love and grace (Eph. 5:1-2, 1 John 4:19). We must be converted from selfi sh sinners to selfless saints of God. Jesus showed this love by dying on the cross for sinners (1 John 3:16).

Agape love was a new concept revealed by the New Testament of Jesus Christ, who taught us to love our neighbors and also our enemies (Matt. 5:44). This is not to overlook or empower bad behavior in others but it is always being guided by acting in what is in their ultimate best interest. This empowerment of love comes only from the gospel of Christ. Christianity is truly a heavenly religion.