Principles: 10 Imperatives for the Good Life

Why write out a list of principles?

For one thing, it’s my birthday. And, although I’m only in my twenties, I’m feeling a bit reflective.

For another, I’ve just been given a copy of Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio (affiliate link).

According to Dalio (ix),

Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be aplied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.

With that in mind, here are 10 principles I’ve developed so far. I’ve followed Dalio’s lead in casting my principles as imperatives. No, I don’t always do an excellent job at these. But they’re worth striving for.

No, this is not an exhaustive list. And no, I don’t always do an excellent job at these. But they’re worth striving for.


1. Go to Church: Word & Sacraments

This principle, and the following one, are purposefully at the top of the list. Why? Because they will place you in a context where your desires, your view of reality, and therefore your principles will be formed in the right direction.

So, go to a church where you can hear the Word of God preached and where you can partake of the Sacraments.

Further Reading:

2. Do the Daily Office: Morning and Evening Prayer

NOTE: I realize that a WHOLE LOT MORE could be said with/underneath these first two “principles.” As an overarching principle, “Become More Like Jesus Christ in All I Think, Feel, Say, and Do,” is quite good. In fact, I’d consider most of the rest of this blog to be relevant in that respect.

However, I’m going to devote the next eight principles to various pragmatic concerns, such as productivity, physical fitness, and financial well-being.

3. Think on Paper: Keep a Journal and To-Do Lists

4. Read More & Take Notes

5. Ask More/Better Questions

6. Sit Less & Move Heavier Objects

7. Eat Less Sugar & More Vegetables

8. Turn off the TV and the Notifications on Your Phone

9. Get/Stay out of Debt

10. Invest a 401K and IRA in Index Funds or Lifecycle Funds


What principles would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments!

Unity?

The more I study the New Testament, I become more convinced that the unity of the Church is of utmost importance to God.

What bothers me is that this has never been taught to me before. All of the things I’ve learned (specifically in my studies on Philippians, Galatians, and now Romans) about the importance of unity for the sake of the Gospel mission and the Kingdom of God have come as somewhat of a shock.

It’s not that I’ve never heard about the importance of unity before. But when the topic has been addressed in the past, it’s amounted to little more than being nice to my friends…people who are already likely to be remarkably similar to me, people already within  the little camp of Christianity in which I have grown-up.

But it’s never been encouraged to spread to other Christian “camps.” Forget the Pentecostals, Anglicans, Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc. If the pastor’s feeling a bit edgy, we can partner with them on service projects, but unless the “others” get their act together, they are to be tolerated at best, and at worst ridiculed.

Instead, in my particular stream of Christianity, the focus has been placed on two things: doctrinal orthodoxy and moral purity.

Please don’t hear me wrongly, I am not denying the importance of either of these two things. God is meant to be known well, and to do that we must think, talk, teach, and speak about him well. Theology is not to be a shoddy enterprise, and we must constantly examine ourselves, aware of the shortcomings of our humanness, in the pursuit of understanding of Yahweh. Furthermore, Yahweh is a holy God. He hates Sin and Death, and if we are serious about following him, we must hate Sin and Death as well.

Christ calls us to live Genesis 1-2 lives in a Genesis 3 world.

But, wait a second. Go back and read that again. “Christ calls us to live Genesis 1-2 lives in a Genesis 3 world.” What popped into your head as you read that sentence? What should characterize that Genesis 1-2 kind of life?

I fear that, if you’ve inherited the same stream of Christianity that I have, unity and interpersonal relationships were not the first things to color your vision of what Genesis 1-2 would look like today. Instead, we (conservative evangelical North American Christians) are much more likely to think of living a morally spotless life driven by a flawless theology. With no sin to fetter us and lead us toward doctrinal laxity, we would be free to enjoy God forever.

We have flattened Christianity by focusing on these things at the expense of focusing on the rich vision of community and unity that we find in the pages of Scripture. Read Genesis 1-2. We were created to enjoy God, yes. We were created to live without sin, yes. But we were created to enjoy and be enjoyed by each other. We were made to know and be known. God’s perfect shalom included much more than moral purity and doctrinal orthodoxy. It included perfect relationships: with God, with each other, with our own “self”s, and with all of creation.

And likewise, the Fall of Genesis 3 broke relationships. It separated us from God, estranged us from each other, introduced discord within our own psyches, and infected the creation in which we dwell. Sin and Death were unleashed into the cosmos, and they have polluted and twisted every layer.

The call back to Genesis 1-2 therefore involves much more than right doctrine and moral purity. God is in the process of redeeming everything. And every time we cut his redemptive mission in half (or sometimes smaller), we do so at our own peril.

…toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ – the things in heaven and the things on earth. (Ephesians 1:10 NET)

I believe that God’s heart breaks over the lack of unity in his Church today. Is he pleased with the individual moral sins we love to emphasize? By no means. Is he pleased with bad theology? No way. But something is seriously amiss if we do not think that God’s heart breaks over the fragmentation within the Body of Christ.

What do you think about this issue? Why does this not bother us like it should? And most importantly, what can we do to address this problem?

Grace and peace,

~Josh