Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

10 Personal Decisions for the Common Good

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

10 Personal Decisions for the Common Good

Article excerpt

WE LiVE iN an age in which we are encouraged to make decisions that further our personal benefit. This attitude is so pervasive that it extends even to our spiritual lives.

There is a danger in making our faith so personal and inward, so focused on the first command- ment to love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength, that we forget to keep the second commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Though our culture would tell us to look out for number one, Christ's upside-down kingdom offers a dif- ferent and subversive message: Lose your life and you'll find it. The church was designed to display the "manifold wisdom of God" by creat- ing a community full of people who, like Jesus, put others before them- selves and seek the common good. Christian community is intended to be a living witness, to demonstrate and to anticipate the future of the world that has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ.

In other words, it's impossible to keep the second commandment without loving God with everything we have, but it's also impossible to keep the first without loving our neighbors as ourselves.

A thriving common good and the quality of our life together are deeply affected by the personal decisions we all make. The commons-those places we come together as neigh- bors and citizens to share public space-will never be better than the quality of our own lives and households.

But what does that look like on a practical level? How can the choices we make as individuals reinforce the common good and promote human flourishing? As I've asked myself these questions, I've come up with 10 personal decisions we can make to further the common good.

1If you are a father or a mother, make your children the most important priority in your life and build your other commitments around them. If you are not a par- ent, look for children who could benefit from your investment in their lives.

2If you are married, be faithful to your spouse. Demonstrate your commitment with both your fidelity and your love. If you are single, measure your relation- ships by their integrity, not their usefulness.

3If you are a person of faith, focus not just on what you believe but on how you act on those beliefs. If you love God, ask God how to love your neighbor. …

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