04 June 2008

Three Simple Rules, Part 2

Yesterday I talked about the first General Rule of the United Methodist Church, so today I want to reflect on the second - "do good."

More completely, the second General Rule says, "...by doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity; doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all...." (Book of Discipline, para. 103)

It seems to me that this second rule would be even harder to keep than the first. It is one thing to consciously avoid harming someone, it is quite another to continuously be on the lookout for ways to do good for others.

For me, the most surprising thing about this second rule is that the "good" that Wesley is talking about doing is not necessarily a good thing for me individually. Luke 6:27-28 comes to mind when I think about pursuing what is good for others above what may be good for me. How many times (a day) are we told by the world that we have to look out for ourselves? How many times (a day) do we take that advice to the detriment of the ones we love? or the ones we'll never meet?

The words of Jesus and of Wesley suggest that doing good is a universal command.
This is, doing good is not limited to those like me or those who like me. Doing
good is directed at everyone, even those who do not fit my category of "worthy"
to receive any good that I or others can direct their way. This command is also
universal in that no one is exempt from it. (37)

Again, Job calls doing good "proactive living" in the face of a reactive culture and world. Doing good is more than responding to the cries of the world - it is actively seeking out opportunities to be in service to the world.

What about self? What about doing good for yourself? Job calls it "healthy self-denial," but I'll let you read the book to find out more about that! Tomorrow: the third General Rule!

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