Why do we need so many rules? There are rules about everything - how to behave in school, how to play games, sports. And parents have rules at home.
Of course, sometimes rules can help a lot. Let's say there's a kid in your class whom other kids make fun of because he's slow in learning, or bad at sports, or she dresses weird or talks or acts or lives differently from you and your friends. There's a rule that can help this person, and help you to help him or her feel loved. Maybe you've heard of it. It's the Golden Rule, and it's about how people treat each other. It's a good rule to follow no matter where you are.
Jesus knew this rule. When he was teaching one day, he said, "In everything do to others, as you would have them do to you" (Matt 7:12). And he said other things that day that show how to obey the Golden Rule: do good to your neighbor and love your enemies. Don't judge or condemn people, or fight back, or be angry with others. Help those who ask you for help.
Obeying the Golden Rule is first of all about the way we think. Did you know that your thoughts can be felt? Good thoughts help. Bad thoughts hurt. And how we think affects how we act. So thinking the way the Golden Rule says to is really the starting point. Think about others the way you'd want them to think about you. Then you'll know exactly what to do.
How do you think Jesus thought about other people? Well, one thing he knew was that God is our Father, everyone's totally loving Father. God made us all perfect, because He is perfect. Our perfection is our real, spiritual self. Even if we don't seem so perfect, it really is how God made us. We can trust this and expect God to show us what is true about each other as His children.
Jesus said that he did only what God showed him to do. We're God's children, too, so we have the ability to know and do what God wants us to do. We can do what's loving and honest and intelligent. It's natural for us to obey the Golden Rule. God will show us how.
It can be doing simple things like holding a door open for someone. Or it can be doing something bigger like telling a friend what a great job she's doing, or putting your arm around someone on your soccer team when he's hurt. Helping your mom or dad when they've got too much to do. Telling the truth to protect someone else when it might be easier not to, or including everyone in the game, even the kid who doesn't play very well. Obeying the Golden Rule is doing all those cool things you want someone to do for you.
Here's an example. When they were on a scout jamboree, Matt and a friend climbed up and played on some haystacks. The part of the stack Matt was on crumbled, and he fell down. He climbed back up and saw Jeff crying, wanting to get down and not knowing how. Matt remembered how he used to be afraid like that, and he wanted to help Jeff. Just then the scout leader got there and helped Jeff down. Matt stayed and played on the stack, but he was glad that Jeff was OK. The way Matt thought in that moment was obeying the Golden Rule.
It's not always easy to do that. Sometimes we have to get past being angry or afraid even to want to think about someone in a good way and then do what is right to do. But God will show you how to do it.
So what about that kid in your class who is different? How can you follow the Golden Rule?
You might think about how this person is really, truly, made by God. And God loves him or her as an important, wonderful child. Then look for proof of this. Maybe the person is good at art, or is nice to a little brother, or ... you get the idea. When you see a little bit of good, it will be easy to see more and more good about someone. Then you can treat that person with respect. And you'll find things you can do to be a friend.
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