By Heather Green
I like to believe that sometimes simple is more: more meaningful, more memorable, and more important. I am often reminded of this as I try to simplify things to explain to my excessively inquisitive four-year-old. From the moment she wakes up, the questions start. Usually, “Mommy, what day’s today? Is it a school day?” She is so excited when I reply yes. Experiencing her excitement about school makes me reminisce about going to school and Sunday School when I was little. To this day I believe that one of the simplest lessons I learned in Sunday School is still one of the most important.
I’m not trying to minimize the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, or any of the numerous parables we learned in Sunday School because they were all important in teaching what it means to be a Christian. However, I still consider Matthew 7:12 as the most important lesson I learned in Sunday School.
In Matthew 7:12, Jesus tells us, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This is what we commonly refer to as the Golden Rule. To me, this summarizes what it means to be a Christian and a decent human being.
Maybe the reason “simple” lessons like these are taught to little children is because children are more open to loving and accepting everyone. They haven’t yet had life experiences that have made them jaded or disillusioned with other people. Wouldn’t it be so much easier and simpler if we could see life through the eyes of a child again?
When I was a classroom teacher, I created my class rules around the Golden Rule, such as being respectful to each other, no name calling, and so forth. But I was teaching Middle School students and sometimes I still wonder when it became acceptable (in their minds) to call names, bully, and act so hurtfully towards each other. But then I came to the realization that the simplest things are the hardest to do, the hardest to rationalize, and the hardest to accept.
Sometimes it can be so satisfying to lash out when someone has made you mad, even though you know Jesus tells us to “turn the other cheek.” It’s part of our “human” nature at conflict with our “Christian” nature. Walking away, loving someone, or accepting someone who least deserves it and probably needs it the most are such important things for a child to learn. You will truly never love yourself if you can’t love somebody else more.