How should we live?

Every ten days, my computer pops up a reminder to read one of three lists of maxims on the Christian life that I’ve picked up over the last quarter-century. This list, which I excerpted from Fr. Stephen Freeman, really got to me today for its brevity and profundity:

  1. First, live as though in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated into the world and the outcome of history has already been determined. (Quit worrying)
  2. Second, love people as the very image of God and resist the temptation to improve them.
  3. Third, refuse to make economics the basis of your life. Your job is not even of secondary importance.
  4. Fourth, quit arguing about politics as though the political realm were the answer to the world’s problems. It gives it power that is not legitimate and enables a project that is anti-God.
  5. Fifth, learn to love your enemies. God did not place them in the world for us to fix or eliminate. If possible, refrain from violence.
  6. Sixth, raise the taking of human life to a matter of prime importance and refuse to accept violence as a means to peace. Every single life is a vast and irreplaceable treasure.
  7. Seventh, cultivate contentment rather than pleasure. It will help you consume less and free you from slavery to your economic masters.
  8. Eighth, as much as possible, think small. You are not in charge of the world. Love what is local, at hand, personal, intimate, unique, and natural. It’s a preference that matters.
  9. Ninth, learn another language. Very few things are better at teaching you about who you are not.
  10. Tenth, be thankful for everything, remembering that the world we live in and everything in it belongs to God.

Source: The Violence of Modernity

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