First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

What is the Metal of Your Love?

First United Methodist Church
February 20, 2022
Rev. Dr. Byron Kaiser, Pastor
What is the metal of your love? - Luke 6:27-38

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

We are coming to the end of February, which is known among other things as the month of love. We have just come past Valentine’s Day. That and with our text from the Gospel of Luke this week from the Common Lectionary, we focus on love. We focus on the quality of our love with which we hold one another. We spoke in January about love. In that sermon, we thought of love as decision by which we choose to live. Given that love is a decision, how do we measure the quality of our love? How do we measure our loving?

On the website Welding Handbook, the authors recommend seven tests to determine the kind and quality of metal. These tests are as follows: surface appearance, spark test, chip test, magnet test, torch test, chemical test, and hardness test. Each of these tests has a schematic through which a person may trace results to determine what metal or variation and combination of metals a welder may be confronting. What if we make our own type of tests for love to determine the type and quality of love. Put on your welding goggles and let’s see what happens.

Please pray with me,
“Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Rock and our Redeemer.” Amen.

What metal is your love?

The Iron Rule

Is your love iron? Do you practice The Iron Rule?

The sparks really fly with this one. When humanity was first organizing into clans, then cultures, then civilizations, the best behavioral model we could come up with was the “Iron Rule.” The Iron Rule attempts to prevent unwanted behavior by proactively “boinking” others over the head with a club before they “boink” you. The Iron Rule reads, “Do unto others before they do unto you.”

The major premise is that all weapons are made to be used. The minor premise that all humans are prone to use weapons. The conclusion we can draw is that all weapons will be used. Therefore, I'd better use my weapon first.

Listen to this, "We have to face the facts. The technology exists. It can't be uninvented. Once it gets out there, it will be abused. None of us can prevent that from happening. But we can choose, where we want to be and on what side when the end finally does arrive. Do you want to be the destroyed? Or the destroyers?" — Boyd Langton, Dollhouse.

This is a stock explanation for those operating on the extremely cynical end of the sliding scale of idealism versus cynicism. I am not sure that I can call this type of behavior “Love” but some may justify its use in the name of loving family, (think Hatfield’s and McCoy’s), or loving county, (think nationalism, white supremacy).

You will read about unsavory leaders in the book of Genesis who take this scotched earth approach. Lamech the son of Methuselah says, “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold."

The Silver Rule

Is your love silver? Do you practice the Silver Rule?

The Iron Rule was scaled up into a more refined Silver Rule. The Silver Rule is in our scriptures. It is the lex talionis: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

Because of people like Lamech, the purpose of the Silver Rule set limits to the damage that one may inflict upon another after having been the victim of the Iron Rule. The meaning resides in the practice that you only take one eye if you lost only one eye. You cannot take two eyes if you lost only one. However, this is not how we practice it.

The practice of the Silver Rule has been widely used to justify vengeful feelings. Since it is in the Bible, many people claim, today, that it is our duty not to let anyone take advantage of us. It is taught that we should do our best to get even with those who have wronged us.

The Silver Rule is what governs too much of our planet today. Too many Christians practice this type of love as if it were the Gospel Truth. Is it the Gospel Truth? No, it is not.

The Silver Rule was intended to be a gracious restraint and we have made it a revenge-fueled mandate.

The Golden Rule

Is your love gold? Do you practice the Golden Rule?

It took a revelation of God and long years wandering in the wilderness for men and women to finally open their hearts and spirits to the upscaling power of The Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Here, at last, was a focus outside self-promotion or self-fulfillment.

If the Iron Rule built clans, and the Silver Rule built cultures, it was the Golden Rule that built the best of Western civilization. Yet there is one little problem with The Golden Rule. Who does it put at the center? Who pivots the universe of The Golden Rule? That’s right. YOU. The Golden Rule is self-referential and narcissistic: “Do unto others as YOU would have done to YOU.”

You have experienced the problem with the Golden Rule. Look around. If we are living by the Golden Rule a large amount of people think very badly of themselves. They want to be treated in horrible ways by the way they treat others.

The Platinum Rule

Is your love platinum? Do you practice the Platinum Rule?

No one in the world of finance and commerce runs a business according to “The Golden Rule.” The captains of corporate culture, the real rulers of this twenty-first-century world, the algorithms behind social media, govern according to “The Platinum Rule.” “Do unto others as THEY would have you do unto them.” Burger King puts the Platinum-Rule theology in short form: “Have it your way!”

The Titanium Rule

Is your love titanium? Do you practice the Titanium Rule?

None of these metals are pure enough for Jesus. The bar of “love” has been raised to infinite heights by God’s sacrificial love on the cross.

A few years ago, American Express quietly introduced an exclusive new card. The Centurion Card is black and is made from titanium—-the hardest known naturally occurring metal. In fact, when the titanium Centurion Card expires, the member must send it back to American Express for recycling. The titanium cannot be cut up or shredded. Besides, titanium is too valuable to be thrown away.

Jesus introduces and invokes a completely new mindset, heart set, soul set into the universe. Jesus established The Titanium Rule. “Love one another as I have loved you.” The titanium rule does not focus on “doing;” it focuses on being and on “loving.”

Love others as the Christ who hung on the cross for our sins loved us.

Love others as the God who “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son” loved us.

Love others with a love that enables you to lay down your life for them.

And how has Jesus loved us? “Greater love has no one than this, than that he lay down his life for his friend.”

Death by discipleship is not demanded of all disciples. But all disciples ARE called to commit to sacrificial love, to “laying down,” to the indestructible Titanium Rule that puts the needs and care of the other over our own, even when those others stand in direct opposition to our own desires.

The challenge of discipleship is to extend the reach of the Titanium Rule beyond genetic bounds, beyond the bounds of clan and culture and civilization, beyond even the bounds of those we even like, much less “love.”

The best time to demonstrate discipleship is right now.

We ARE a global community.

We ARE connected in ways we have never been before.

We ARE neighbors with the entire world and the entire planet.

Let the Titanium Rule rule: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

So, what is the metal of your love?