living for today and the future

“A [Christian] should always act as if he was going to die tomorrow; yet he should treat his body as if it was going to live for many years.”

— Evagrios the Solitary, 4th cent. AD

The encouragement to ‘live today as if it was our last’ is somewhat trite and only partly correct.  While we should be motivated to act toward others as if today was our final day, we must always act towards ourselves as though we would live to be one hundred.

The first motivation keeps us from passing up opportunities to serve, to grow, to forgive, and to love.  Indeed, when looking back from our deathbeds, our lives will seem short and our missed opportunities many.  Carpe diem.  Let us seize the day, redeem our time, and make the most of each day–recognizing each as a gift that we dare not take for granted.

Simultaneously, the latter truth prevents us from neglecting our own health and wellness, without which it is impossible to do those things inspired by former.  We must care for ourselves–physically, emotionally, spiritually–precisely that we might seize today and act as though these hours were our final ones on earth.

Unfortunately, our society tends to reverse the truths taught by Evagrios.  We act as though we would live forever–putting off indefinitely those things we ought to be busy about right now.  At the same time, we treat our bodies as though we would die tomorrow–neglecting wellness in favor of the immediate satisfaction of gluttony and sloth.

We must get the order right, that we might make a real difference in the lives of those around us.

for the good of all…

We have no right to our possessions; they have been entrusted to us for the good of all.  Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him:  we are dependent upon him for our very existence.  And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well; what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?

– Paulinus of Nola (5th cent monk), in Common Prayer

materialism and mission

Materialism is all but killing the mission of the church. The churchlacks resources for mission, not because things are tight, but becauseChristians spend money in much the same way as any old atheist. Thelifestyles of most Christians are no different from non-Christians inthe pursuit of more. The only difference is that in the church we arethe hypocrites because we condemn materialism while wallowing in it upto our armpits, justifying our way of life by pointing our fingers atthe person who has more than we do. The materialists are always thosewho make more money and have more expensive things than we do. Thus we can make our prophetic pronouncements directed at someone else andcontinue to live as if nothing has changed…

Read the rest here On Living Heretically: Some Wisdom for the Church

Therefore, Christian nonviolence is not a strategy to end war, though of course it certainly wants to make war less likely. Rather Christians are called to nonviolence in a world of war because they can do nothing less as faithful followers of Christ. Christian nonviolence is an eschatological position that reminds Christians that we live in a new age begun by Christ yet not yet consummated. Accordingly, Christian nonviolence is the exemplification of God’s patience as found in the cross to redeem us so that we might be for the world his promised people.

Stanley Hauerwas, Christological Pacifism

Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the age to come, so that they may take hold of life that is real.

— 1 Timothy 6.17-19 (HCSB)