Matthew 7:12 — A 1971 Coca-Cola Commercial and The Golden Rule and Living In Perfect Harmony

Posted: October 29, 2015 in 40-Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 7:12
The Golden Rule

Back in the day, there was a commercial shown usually only at Christmas time (it debuted in 1971). It was a Coca Cola commercial and some considered it a hippie commercial because of its peace/love/dove message. In the text that superimposed on the film at the beginning of the commercial, it said, “On a hilltop in Italy, We assembled young people from all over the world to bring you this message From Coca-Cola Bottlers all over the world.” This group of young people begins to sing a song specially written for the commercial. The chorus of song in the commercial was this:

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
And keep it company
That’s the real thing.

The rest of the lyrics were promoting unity among all people. One of the things that unites the world is the ubiquitous Coca-Cola. The point of the commercial is that we in the world can find common ground and make the world a better place. We’ve done it by sharing a fondness for Coke, why can’t we find common ground on other issues? It was a radical thought at the time. It was actually a controversial commercial at the time because our nation was embroiled in the Vietnam War, improving race relations, the shedding of traditional values by the younger generations, the emergence of terrorism from newly independent and oil wealthy Islamic nations and a host of other domestic and international problems that seemed to big to solve. Just love one another with a Coke and a smile? Pie in the sky hippie dreamers! It is 2015 now and maybe we need the 1971 Coke commercial more than ever. Harmony at home and abroad still seems like a pie in the sky hippie dream. How are we going to ever change this world? How ‘bout the Golden Rule?

Matthew 7:12 is often referred to as the Golden Rule. In this verse, Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Some say that this one verse is the essence of the Bible. Jesus says it sums up the Law and the Prophets meaning that it summarizes the Old Testament in a nutshell. Having it spoke here by Jesus in the New Testament affirms and carries forward the Old Testament into the New. This message is found elsewhere in the New Testament as well. Jesus says in Luke 10:27 that we should love the Lord, our God, with all our heart, mind, soul and strength AND our neighbor as yourself. This is the essence of the Christian life. Often, we try to overcomplicate the Christian life, but it boils down to the Golden Rule If we all actually lived by the Golden Rule, the world would indeed be a better place. There are several things that we need to see here. First, Matthew 7:12 comes right on the heels of a passage in which it basically states that we must trust God by submitting to His leadership. Second, have you noticed what comes first in this verse? Finally, we shall see that if we applied the Golden Rule to all our relationships, maybe, we will have that 1971 Coke commercial in our lives.

The first thing that you will notice about Matthew 7:12 is that it follows on the heels of the “Ask, Seek, Knock” passage. That is no mistake. There is nothing random in God’s design for universe and there is nothing random in arrangement of the texts in the Bible. Yesterday, we talked about the fact that there is in its essence in that passage that we do not have something and we must seek it from the Lord. In order for us to seek the Lord, we must first realize that we do not have what we need on our own. We must realize that God is the answer to that which we ask, seek, and knock. He is the Creator and Sustainer and He is our Father. When we realize that we are not in control, when we realize that this universe is not all about us, we can come to the realization that we need God. In seeking Him, we must submit ourselves to His Lordship. It is only then that we can have peace and true joy. When we realize that we are sinners, incomplete, imperfect and in need of intervention, it is then that we are able to submit ourselves to God. It is only then, when we put God first in our lives, that we can live out the Golden Rule that follows in Matthew 7:12. In the absence of our submission the Lord God through Jesus Christ, we are all about ourselves. Me and you battling to get our needs met. Me and you and everyone else fighting to make sure my needs are number one and that they are met. Selfish pride and ambition take over when we are not submitted to God. We think we know best. What is right for me is what matters. Screw you and your rights. It is my rights that matter. How can we treat others unselfishly if we think we are our own god? It should not be lost on us that the content of this verse, Matthew 7:12, comes right after Jesus says that we must swallow our pride and seek, ask, and knock in our pursuit of God. Seeking, asking, knocking are all action verbs that indicate that you have something that I do not have. That means that we don’t have something that we need. There is humility that comes when you realize that you are not “the all to end all!” When we come to Christ, it is because we realize that we need help. We realize that we are screwed up and messed up and we need Jesus to make us new. We realize that we have disappointed God by the mess that we have made of our lives and that we need a Savior, someone to intervene and reconcile us to God. That takes a reality check. That takes humility. When we get to that point, and surrender our will to God through Jesus Christ, we transition from always making sure that our needs are met at the expense of everyone else into a new creature that wants to love as Jesus loved and glorify God in the process. The Golden Rule is glorifying God in action. In order to do unto others as we would have them do unto us requires us to first having been in submission to God. When we realize that God will provide for whatever our real needs are, there is a peace that comes with that. No longer are we so concerned with solely getting our needs met. We are ready to live out the Golden Rule.

The next thing that we see here is the order in which this verse is laid out. It is not stated as waiting to see what others will do to you first and then formulated a response in kind. It requires us to take the first step. It requires action on our part. We are to be the initiators. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is pretty radical. It makes us take a step of faith and treat others in the way that we want to be treated. It does not say that we must wait and see what others will do first. Jesus says that we should lead with how we want to be treated not with how we are being treated. How radical is that? In Matthew 5:46, if you remember from our earlier blogs, Jesus says, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” We have a higher calling as Christ followers. We must go beyond the action-reaction way of life. We must go beyond the measured response way of life. We are called to treat people that way that we want to be treated first. We are not called to be reactionary. We are called to be revolutionary. We are to initiate change. We are to love those who are not loving us. We are to think in each situation of how we would want to be treated before we act. Our response to the world comes from a place of not meeting someone else’s actions with equal veracity. Our response comes from how we would want to be treated. This is such a radical concept. It changes everything if we would just follow the order of the verse here. Lead with how you would want to be treated. It requires action not reaction. It requires us to respond in the way we would want to be treated rather than in reaction to how we are actually being treated. Hate for hate only leads to more hate. Love in reaction to hate leads to amazement and communication. Negatives reject where positive charges attract one another. Circles of violence on lead to more violence until there is nothing left to win. Man, if we led with unilateral kindness toward others where we are the ones that say enough is enough and set our pride aside for the good of all involved, what a cool place this would be. God sent His Son. He initiated an act of loving kindness toward us. We did not deserve it. God in his full right of justice as the Creator and Judge did not have to do that. He led with kindness in reaction to our rebellion against Him. He did not have to do that. God could have just said we are not worth the trouble and wrote us off into the oblivion of hell that by all rights we deserve. No, though, he did not. He led with love. He was the initiator of that which would solve our sin problem, our rebellion against Him. Man, we did not and do not deserve the loving kindness He showed us. Why can’t we live our lives leading with love instead of reacting to what we are given and continuing the cycle of destruction?

What if we applied the Golden Rule in all our relationships? What a wonderful world this would be! Let us use marriage as an example. What if in our marriages, we placed the marriage above our individual needs. What if we made meeting our spouse’s needs greater than having our needs met? In marriage, we need to be the change that we want to see. We must lead with what we can do for our spouse rather than sitting back and waiting and complaining that our needs are not being met. Marriage is greater than the individuals in it. What makes a championship team? It is a team that is unselfish about who the star of the team is. Maybe this week it is the quarterback. Maybe next game it is the running back. Maybe the next game it is the defensive line. Unselfish. It is team where you have each other’s back. Teams that destroy themselves are those that do not submit individual wills to the needs of the team. We must do the same with our marriages. The needs of the marriage should outweigh our individual needs for personal glory. In marriage, we must lead with seeking to serve the needs of our spouse not wait and see if our needs are going to be met before we venture anything. Isn’t the essence of love meeting the needs of others without expectation of payback? Shouldn’t our marriages be this way? As a matter of fact, should not all of our relationships be this way. With our children? With our brothers and sisters? With our neighbors? With our co-workers? With the other soccer moms at soccer practice? With the cashier at the Wal-Mart? With everyone? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Most of us would say the Golden Rule would be easy to apply if only. If only my spouse would do this. If only my boss would do this. If only…if only…if only. Jesus calls us to be more than “if only.” He calls us to love people even when they don’t do life the way that we want them to. We are so often focused on giving only to see what we can get back in return. That is the way of the world. What if we gave with no expectation of payback? That is the Golden Rule. Loving first. Leading with love without concern if you are going to get something back from it. Loving without restrictions or conditions. Unselfish love. That’s a world in which there will be perfect harmony, as aspired in the 1971 Coke commercial. It starts with you and me. Be the world that you want to see. One person at a time. Jesus led with love even though He knew that you and I might reject his love offer. He loved anyway. Let us lead with love. Let us be the seed planters who take the first step and plant the seeds. The seeds of love. Then, the world will be a better place. One that lives in perfect harmony.

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