The Christian way of life is not just better than the ways of the world because of the eternal consequences of our actions, it is also the best way to live life in this world. It is not better because it provides some kind of immediate pleasure, or even because it is the most useful way to live. The Christian way of life is the most meaningful way to live, the Christian way of life is a path of true wisdom. Our core principle of “quality education” speaks to the value we place on wisdom. Wisdom, on the one hand, is about knowing the most important truths about life: we are made for happiness, and that happiness can only be achieved in a personal reciprocal relationship with a good equal or superior to ourselves. Only another person can bring us to the full development of our minds and hearts, and nothing less than another person could be worthy of the gift of ourselves. Human wisdom teaches us that this other person is what we consider to be a true friend. Practically, that wisdom also guides us into developing and maintaining true human friendships. Practically, that wisdom leads us to become virtuous.
Christian wisdom goes even further than that. A quality education is not just learning about the world around us, how it works, history, science, math, the arts, etc. A quality education is also about more than acquiring the virtues we need to become worthy and capable of true friendship. A quality education is – at its summit – the wisdom of the Cross. Jesus, our God in the flesh, is slain on the Cross so that we might be resurrected with Him – attached to Him by the same love He has shown us. He has poured out everything in love, even for us who made ourselves His enemies by turning away from Him in sin. Christian wisdom helps us find meaning in the suffering that is otherwise meaningless. Christian wisdom makes us one with God, brings us into a personal relationship with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit helps us understand that living our lives for others – even our enemies – leads to true happiness.
Nothing is wiser than the person who lives virtuously. Observe how wise he is, says one. He gives what he owns, he is compassionate, he is loving to all. He has understood well that he shares a common human nature with others. He has thought through how to use his wealth wisely. He realizes the position of wealth makes him no one special. He knows that the bodies of his relatives are more valuable than his wealth. The one who despises glory is wholly wise, for he understands human affairs. This is genuine philosophy, the knowledge of things divine and human. So then he comprehends what things are divine and what are human. From the one he keeps himself, and to the other he devotes his labors. And he also knows how to thank God in all things. He considers the present life as nothing; therefore he is neither delighted with prosperity nor grieved with the opposite condition.1
We are also prohibited both from loving that world and, if we understand rightly, are commanded to love it. We are prohibited, of course, where it is said to us, “Do not love the world.” But we are commanded when it is said to us, “Love your enemies.” They are the world, which hates us. Therefore we are both prohibited from loving in it what the world itself loves, and we are commanded to love in it what the world hates, namely, the handiwork of God and the various comforts of his goodness. We are prohibited from loving the fault in it and are commanded to love its nature. The world loves the fault in itself and hates its nature. So we rightly love and hate it, although it perversely loves and hates itself.2