First Principles Thinking and Acting

I cannot remember when the thought impacted me that I should integrate the various aspects of my thinking. It came to me as I pondered something called First Principles thinking.

Let’s let entrepreneur (and not all-around nice guy, but look at what he has done) Elon Musk explain. “First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘What are we sure is true?’ … and then reason up from there.”

What are the first principles of following Jesus, and indeed, for spiritual formation?

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Then Jesus told stories and used metaphor to teach what that meant.

For those beginning at least 1,000 years before him and continuing 2,000 years after who search the scriptures for lists of rules to follow, he said things like You are like a cup, cleaned on the outside, but full of crud on the inside.

To what it means to love your neighbor and answer the question as to whom is my neighbor, he told the story we call The Good Samaritan.

In our spiritual formation, do we turn to God in various ways every day such that we are intimate—prayer, meditation, study, singing, and so on? What have we done today that shows love toward our neighbor like the traveling Samaritan who cared for the traveler who was beaten?

When we are making decisions, whether for ourselves or our group, do we stop and apply first principles thinking toward our decision-making process?

That would make all the difference.

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