Divergent Views about Death
This essay tackles the paradox of death by comparing beliefs of Christianity and Buddhism about death through examining religious materials and relevant source to ascertain why and how the two religions differs about the ever-present element, death. Through the above thesis statement, the essay will provide reliable information about the view of death in Christianity and Buddhism. There are many religions in the world as a result of differing opinions about important aspects of life. There are many aspects that lack clarity arousing different believes and arguments. One area that has remained as a great paradox among all the world religions is death. Different religions have differed greatly about death and even life after death. However, all religions agree that death is a present element that humanity cannot escape and therefore we cannot overlook its presence and believes across the religions.
Death from Christian Perspective
The origin of death in Christian perspective finds its root from the genesis of Humanity. Christianity purports that death came through one man; Adam, who was the first man to be created by God according to creation theory. God in His supremacy created man and put him in the garden of Ede (International Version, Gen 1.27). Later, God created woman to become the man’s helper in the Garden of Eden. In the garden, there were many trees with good fruits but the man and the woman were forbidden from taking the fruits from the tree of life by God. However, the snake mislead the woman who also mislead the man to take the fruits from the forbidden tree and this subjected them to God’s punishment inform of curse, which is referred to as death (New International Version, Gen 3.1). In Christianity, death came as a consequence of sin and disobedience of the first man to God (Meyer 39). It would not be wrong to claim that there would be no death in world if the first man did not sin from a Christian perspective (Meyer 43).
In order to view death from Christian perspective, it is important to understand there are different groups within Christianity that tend to project different thoughts and arguments about different issues. The divergence in Christian subsets is about the particular place that the “good people” will eventually go (Shuman 195). Some thinks that people who lives to God’s expectation, and in this case, the Christians will go to “heaven” while others talk of “paradise”, which will be the new earth. However, the aspect of death shares a common view among the majority in Christianity. In Christianity, death is a necessary transition that ushers a person to his/her eternity (Jones 157). In eternity, the flesh does not play any role and therefore there is need for the transition to take place in order to be able to acquire the new form that is acceptable in eternity. The Christians believes that eternity has two sides, either the heaven or hell. A person’s eternity is determined by his/her conduct on earth. Good people or the “saved” are expected to join the better side of eternity, which is the new heaven, while the evil or the sinners are expected to join the worst side of eternity, which is the Hell (New International Version, Rev.20.15). Due to this believe, Christians find comfort in death as it is not the end of life, there is better life after death.
The event of death in Christianity involves a transformational process in human beings (Shuman 195). The biblical view of life relates the Immortal and the mortal. Human being is considered a spirit that has a soul and sheltering in the flesh (Jones 158). The spirit possesses a unique characteristic of immortality and does not yield to death. The spirits is the “breath of God” that is deposited to a human being by God Himself. It is expected that at the end of persons life on earth, the Spirit goes to await for judgment while the flesh dies and gets converted to its original form, which is the soil. During the creation, the first man was created from the soil. The bibles declares that were the body came from will be the same place where the body will go at the end of life on earth.
The Biblical perspective about how events will unfold after in the eternity is unique from other religions. All human beings will be raised again for what is termed as judgment (New International Version, Eccl 12:14). This judgment will be the determinant of where the people will spend their eternity. Those who lived as per the biblical prescriptions will be saved to spend eternity with their God while those that did not obey the biblical instructions will be doomed to spend eternity in the “lake of fire”, the Hell. The aspect of consecrating the body before burial features in some Christian groups like Catholics and Orthodox Christians, which is normally done before burial. Though there is believe that the body goes to waste, however, some group tends to believe that rituals can alter the destiny of the deceased (Shuman 195). Most Christian believes in burying the body rather than cremation, which lack biblical foundation.
Death from Buddhist Perspective
Buddhism is one of the religions that strongly believe in the re-birth procedure of reincarnation. In this religion, the death of physical body is inevitable; however, it is a portion of the cycle re-incarnation. After death, a person undergoes significant transformation, which depends on his/her character when he was alive (Becker 8). This transformation may take time before the rebirth of the person take place. Once a person has been identified as dead, his or her body is subjected to the process of cremation, whereby it is reduce to ashes through super heating by fire or intense heat (Gouin 13). Normally, there is certain duration of mourning, probably 49-day period, during which prayers are made for the deceased for the vital transformation take place. Normally, the first week after death is quite important period where major prayers and rituals are conducted. Normally, the living persons are subjected to Meditation on death in order to acquaint themselves with the terror of death and be able to view death from a better perspective. This ritual is normally done to make the people quite at ease with death, and better still to replace the fear and terror of death with comfort and hope. Because of the uncertainties of what a person expect at the end of life, different ritual are made for the deceased to give them a soft landing in the unknown world. The day of person’s death is treated with great reverence. Normally, as per the Buddhist rituals
According the Tibetan Buddhist believes, immediately a person dies, it is thought his/her personality gets into a trance for 4 days (Gouin 21). In such period, the deceased persons are not aware of their situation and the worst still is that they do not know if they are dead. Special verses are read to the dead person believing that at the end of the period the deceased will see a brilliant light, which either scares the person away or attract the dead person. It is believed that once the dead person is not terrified by the brilliant light but instead welcomes it he/she will not be reborn. However, if the deceased is terrified, the light fades away and the person subjected to undergoes the re-birth process (Gouin 16). At some instances, the deceased becomes conscious of his/her death and thereby begin what is referred to as the Second Bardo. In this period all the thing that the dead person used to do are revealed. The Buddhist believes that death is inevitable and the only best approach about it is to prepare for it in advance (Cuevas 4). The life that a person lives on earth determines what he/she will reincarnate to after death. Death is considered a necessary break from the world of pleasure. The consequences of life after death is determined by the persons conduct while he or she was alive. When a person’s death is predictable, the family members of that person begin to prepare in advance for death through reciting relevant scriptures and Matra. It is believed that by conducting such ritual they help the dying person to enter into peaceful state of his or her mind (Cuevas 2). Buddhism asserts that the particular things that keep the people bound to process of death and re-birth is their human desires. This desires manifest through craving for things that belong to this world. However, through Nirvana, it is possible for a person to be liberated from the all manner of craving. Most of the rituals believes in the Buddhism about death are borrowed from Hinduism. The belief of reincarnation draws great peace and self-assurance to the Buddhist because of the consolation it provides about life after death.
It is quite certain that Christianity and Buddhism view death from very different perspective. The only region where the two religions find a common ground is in the certainty its inevitable occurrence. However, the ritual that are conducted when a person die are consequences of the beliefs that the religions believes about life after death. Both believes about life after death ushers some comfort to humanity and reduces the tensions that are created by the terror that is created by death.
Becker, Carl B. Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism. Carbondale u.a: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1993. Print.
Cuevas, Bryan J. The Buddhist Dead: Practices, Discourses, Representations. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawaii Press, 2007. Print.
Gouin, Margaret E. Tibetan rituals of death: Buddhist funerary practices. Vol. 54. Taylor & Francis, 2010.
Jones, Lindsay. Encyclopedia of Religion: 1. New York: Macmillan. 2005. Print.
Meyer, John C. Christian Beliefs and Teachings. Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 1997. Print.
New International Version. [Colorado Springs]: Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
Shuman, Joel James. “The Christian Art Of Dying: Learning From Jesus – By Allen Verhey.” Modern Theology 29.1 (2013): 194-196. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.
Hinduism religion is perceived to be dominant and is embraced by Indians as their way of life. It consists of diverse customs that incorporates the Shaktism, Shaivism Vaishnavism, and norms that relate to karma dharma. This religion is categorized under philosophical perspective with beliefs that relate to the native India. Hinduism is perceived to be the oldest religion in the universe, whereby its followers relate to it as an eternal law that is beyond origin of people. It advocates for virtues, such as mercy, self-restraint, honesty and purity to individuals who practice it.
This religion is believed to have originated from India but its specific date is known to be timeless (Fowler 44). According to followers, Hinduism is a way of life that has always been in existence. Sanatana Dharma is a name give to their sacred texts that reveal eternal teachings. It is perceived to be complex with various interrelated doctrines with common norms but lack unified practices and beliefs. It is impossible to determine its origin because the religion evolved when culture and time already initiated ideas of early India.
The historical circumstances that have influenced Hinduism are unique contrasted to those of other religions. First, the religion has no specific date or founder and only Indians practice it. Hinduism has developed gradually for a period of four thousand years. Authors and origin of Hinduism sacred texts remain anonymous while current form of worship is different from the earlier one. History of this denomination dates back from 2000 BC, which portrays it as the oldest religion that is still surviving. Due to its age, the history circumstances that revolve around Hinduism remain unclear. As a result, scholars are forced to depend on studies that relates to their contemporary texts and archaeology. Historically, political controversy is the key factor that influences Hinduism when there was rise and fall of various empires.
Hinduism has also been influenced culturally via the contentious Aryans. This reflects culture of Indus valley that started to decline back in 1800 BC. The reason of its decline was contributed by drought and floods. Another aspect that influenced Hinduism more is when Indo-Europeans attacked Iran and India during the same period. It is noted that Aryan culture has contributed to development of Indus valley civilization. The Indus Valley and Aryan are two common cultures that are known to influence Hinduism. This impacted to a situation whereby there was a complex combination of aspects that incorporated these two religious customs (Hopkins 68). The influence by Aryans led to a foreign religion from Europe that superseded indigenous Indus, which was in existence.
Environmental factors have influenced Hinduism and are evident when followers protect the ecosystem. According to those who practice the religion, this idea was inherited from their ancestors. During the society’s formative period, Hindus viewed the presence of God within them via nature. As a result, the environment had a positive influence on this religion because they believed that forces of nature guided them in their lives. Furthermore, Hindus considered the environment to represent their creator who was popularly known to be Brahman. Through the surroundings, Hindus felt existence of their creator, which motivated them to stay in harmony with His creation.
Components of Hinduism
The central concepts of Hinduism include God, matter and soul. Individuals who follow this way of life know God as their Supreme Being who is transcendent, creator, immanent as revealed in reality. They have a faith that the soul rejuvenates and evolves via numerous births ensuring that all Karmas are resolved. The soul also liberates moksha from rebirth cycle and they believe that all souls have a destiny. According to Hindus, matter represents the unseen universe, which enables them to create a personal relationship with their creator. They believe in Vedas and its divinity that incorporate ancient scripture representing eternal religion.
Where Hinduism is Practiced
Hinduism is practiced in various sections of the universe and its main sub-continent is India. Other regions within Indian sub-continent that practice it include Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Different parts of the world outside India that embrace the religion are Kenya, Malaysia, United States, Canada and South Africa. Hinduism is spreading fast to most parts of the globe due to immigration and people’s interest to seek spirituality. Approximately a population of 900 million people across the world practices Hinduism (Johnsen, 90).
Sacred Texts Linked to Hinduism
Hinduism does not have a key individual who is linked to religion and this explains why it lacks a fundamental authority or historical founder. This implies that there is no biographical information when there are no specific people who are connected with the denomination. The key sacred texts that relate to practice of Hinduism include the Vedas. It falls under four categories namely Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda (Sivaya 125). These are primary Hinduism books, which had a vast impact on other denominations such as Buddhism. There is also the Upanishads that were drafted in 400 BC reflecting continuation of Vedic beliefs. The book depicts ways in which souls are united with truth via mediation.
Rituals and Myths
There are rituals that are associated with Hinduism religion and they fall under four stages. First is Brahmacharga that occurs during school period. They enable individuals to focus on developing character and gaining knowledge. The second ritual is Grastha and it centers on worldly pursuits such as career and family. Vanaprastha is the third rite that motivates kids to concentrate on spiritual aspects when they become adults. Sanngasu reflects last years of living when an individual leaves the universe and focuses on contemplation. The significant myths of the religion show that Hindu gods are 330 million in number. The reality to this myth is that the religion has only one supreme God known to be anonymous to many people. There is also a myth that Hindus are idol worshippers but the truth is that Hindus adore a reminder of the creator. Another widespread myth is that Hindus worship cows but the reality indicates that they perceive life to be sacred and respects God’s creation. It is a myth when other people think that Hindus eat vegetable only when majority also feed on meat (Fowler 148).
Hinduism is observed to incorporate different practices in their worship. For instance, there is Ayurveda that depict the old system of healing which is popular and has extended to the west. Hatha Yoga is another practice that is outside the culture of this religion and is perceived to be a meditative movement. It leads to a final goal of Raja Yoga and aid in contemplating reality that is connected to this religion. Kundalini Yoga is a practice that incorporates the psychic energy found at the foundation of a spine. It also exhibits progress of seven chakras revealing how they are found at the spine top.
Fowler, Jeaneane. Hinduism Beliefs and Practices. New York: Citadel Press, 2007. Print.
Hopkins, Thomas. Hindu Religious Traditions. London: University Press, 2009. Print.
Johnsen, Linda. Complete Guide to Hinduism. Sage Publications, 2012, Print.
Sivaya, Satguru. Contemporay Hinduism. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. Print.
The Apocalyptic Beliefs in Sunni and Shi’a Muslim Communities
Apocalypse in the religious context refers to a sudden revelation about hidden information or disclosure of future occurrence. These revelations vary from one religion to another, different communities and societies based on their cultural and religious beliefs. Mostly, religions have either similarities or differences in their beliefs, sacred symbols, holidays and celebrations. Apocalypse is one of the contagious issues in the Muslim communities such as Sunni and Shia. Humans have previously predicted the process that will bring an end to human life in various ways. Since the ancient times, apocalypse is quite evident because it appears on several occasions in the Holy Scriptures belonging to different religious groups. In this regard, Sunni and Shia have varied opinions and interpretations regarding to the apocalyptic beliefs in the Islamic community. Sunni is the largest branch of Islam, which refers to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad while Shia is the second largest Islamic community and Shia believers are identified as followers of Ali who is believed to be Muhammad’s cousin. Theology scholars have spelled out the comparison of Sunni and Shia communities and apocalyptic beliefs have been identified as one contemporary issue differentiating them. The contradiction between Shia and Sunni apocalyptic beliefs remains a powerful and a conflicted issue with the modern Sunni differing with the ancient events. Shia on the other hand, believes that the current events are a reflection of early predictions in the Quran. Therefore, Sunni and Shia have a different interpretation of the end times and apocalyptic process in general. Therefore, this paper discusses the various differences portrayed by Sunna and Shia communities concerning apocalyptic beliefs, how they influence their way of living and their relationship.
Connie R. Green, Sandra Brenneman Oldendorf, Religious Diversity and Children’s Literature: Strategies and Resources, Information Age Publishing, 2011, p. 156.
Eaaswarkhanth, Muthukrishnan, et al. “Microsatellite Diversity Delineates Genetic Relationships of Shia and Sunni Muslim Populations of Uttar Pradesh, India.” Human Biology 81.4 (2009): 427-45. ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Ostranský, Bronislav. “The Lesser Signs of the Hour: A Reconstruction of the Islamic Apocalyptic Overture.” Archiv Orientalni81.2 (2013): 235,284,121,382. ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Pierre-Jean. “Islam as a Point of Reference for Political and Social Groups in Iraq.” International Review of the Red Cross 89.868 (2007): 843-55. ProQuest. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Theodicy Concepts in ‘If I Stay Stay’ by Gayle Forman .
Theodicy is a religious concept that attempts to reconcile the existence of an all-powerful, all loving and all-knowing God and the existence of evil and human suffering in the world. Theodicy attempts to give rationale to why God allows the existence and flourish of evil in the world and permits good people to suffer. Theodicy as we know it today, was first proposed by Gottfried Leibniz, a German philosopher and mathematician in his book Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil. This paper explores theodicy as illustrated by the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman(Oshima).
In the book If I Stay by Gayle Forman the problem of evil is well articulated by the writer in several ways. First of all, the narrator’s family gets involved in a horrible accident (11). The narrator’s family was going to visit their friends that had recently had a baby girl. The narrator’s family had decided not to go to work or school due to heavy snow fall that cleared a little allowing the family to go on adrive.
The phantom of the narrator finds her father lying lifeless on the snow with his skull cracked open exposing his torso ton the snow. Mia’s mother is also lying lifeless on the ground that reminds the narrator of zombie. The body of the narrator was lying in a ditch on a pool of her own blood that had seeped through her skirt, shirt and sweater. The narrator however, cannot find his brother by the time the police, fire fighters and physicians came. The concept of theodicy is demonstrated by the narrator’s disbelief and query of why the incident happened to the narrator’s family that the writer paints as a rather descent one (12).
The narrators mother died instantly due to cardiac arrest thus she did not bleed a lot. The narrator’s body was lying on the ditch barely alive and the paramedics were busy trying to save her life. Mia gets embarrassed when she realizes she is half naked and part of her chest is exposed. At the hospital, the suffering of the narrator is shown as she has a collapsed lung, a raptured spleen, internal bleeding and contuses on her brain. She also had several broken ribs and absorption on her legs and face. After her surgery to remove her spleen she is taken to a trauma intensive care unit.
Her grandparents suffering are shown by the fact that they felt bad as there was nothing they could do to help her (20). The narrator’s suffering continues as she has tubes and needles stock in her to help her breath keep her stomach empty and hydrating her. Surprisingly, in her coma she feels no pain and in her ghost form, she sees and hears what others are talking about her.
The evil of fornication is discussed in the book as the narrator and her boyfriend kiss and massage each other (26). Adam, her boyfriend sees Mia, the narrator naked. Mia patients allow her to invite him into her room.Therefore, they are partly to blame for this evil. This evil is made more profound by the fact that parents do not offer advice to their children on how to relate to members of the different gender. For example, the narrator’s parents do not give her guidelines to help her avoid getting in trouble suchas not inviting Adam into her room.
The evil of anger and violence is also evident in this book. For instance, Mia and Kim had a fist fight that ended up with them laughing and becoming friends. However, they both suffered as Mia had a bruised wrist and a raptured lip on the other hand Kim sustained a swollen eye and a cut in her thigh.
The evil of cursing and using vulgarlanguage is evident throughout the book. For example, when Kim, Mia’s friend curses when speaking to her mother when they were walking into the hospital to see Mia(26). This is also evidenced by Kim labeling the Jewish sleep away camp in new Jersey a Torah Whore as all the kids do have hook ups.
Also, the evil of taking religion lightly is clearly addressed by the written Kim as the narrator claims she had never actually seen Kim pray except at her Mitzvah and during Shabbat dinner, when she is forced. When she went into the lack of symbols that could be used by various religions such as lack of prayers to show way is east for the Muslims. Kim does not pray directly to God but instead she talks to her friend, Mia urging her not to die.
The book proposes a couple of powerful ways in whichthe problem of evil can be solved. First is through the use of prayers. Kim, Mia’s best friend goes to the hospital church to pray for Mia. At the accident scene, a woman prays for the narrator’s family even though she did not know them. Thus, in this book prayers are seen as apowerful tool to combat the problem of evil.
The narrator’s grandmother believes that God sent his angels to watch over us. These angels help us to prevent evil from occurring. The angels do not have to be the those depicted in the bible, but could as well be other humans orbirds as their grandmother claims. These angles also, may encourage us or give us strength to face the consequences of evil in our lives.
Love and support is also another vital tool for combating evil and its consequences that is illustrated in the book. The narrator experiences a lot of love and support from her friends and family during this trying times when she is injured and her parents killed.Thus, she is an orphan at the age of seventeen. The narrator also mentions the paramedic who told her to hang in there when she was being put in an ambulance to take her to the hospital might have given her life a new lease. In addition, the friendship love between Mia and her best friend Kim keeps her fighting on and with a motivation to live so as avoidher schoolmate from lighting candles at her closet. Love for her boyfriend; Adam gives her beautiful memories to think of during these hard and trying times which keep her going on.
The evil of fornication can be avoided by parent exercising control over their children. For example, Kim is only allowed to date Jewish boys only but there are only a handful of them in Oregon. Parents can also offer guidance and advice to their kids regarding the importance of abstaining from sexual activities until one gets married. Parents should also ensure that their kids can only hang out in public areas where they can be seen. Mia first experiments sexwith Adam when they are alone in her room. Lastly teenagers should avoid using drugs as this increases the probability of fornicating. For instance, when Adam was drunk, he kissed Mia hard and she kissed him back.
God punishes those that he loves so as to make them meditate and change their wicked ways. In this case, Mia’s suffering makes her change for the better as she starts contemplating of those things that are more important in her life such as going to New York city to realize her dream of becoming a cellist. God gives us strength and wisdom to be able to avoid evil or to triumph over it. In this book, the narrator is given some paranormal ability of leaving her body thus does not feel a lot of anguish and also she is given the strength to handle the loss of her parents. God also sends us his angles to watch over us and helps us to avoid evil or win over it. God also brings forth a seed of greater or equal fortune for every misfortune that evil may bring into our lives. He also assures us that the wages of our sin which is the fruits of an evil act is death. This makes majority of people to avoid it so that they do not suffer this painful punishment.
Oshima, Takayoshi. “The Babylonian Theodicy: An Ancient Babylonian Discourse On Human Piety And Divine Justice”. Religion Compass 9.12 (2015): 483-492. Web.
Although love is one of the greatest commandments as indicated in the Bible, human beings are finding it difficult to love their fellow humans freely. According to the Catholic religious faith, love is expressed through liturgy. Even when God has promised a great reward for those who will obey the rules of love, human beings are still in dilemma. They believe that it is only God who can love human beings freely without conditions. Agape is the Christian love, which is underlined in the New Testament to mean affection, kindness, high esteem, and showing concern towards the welfare of others. Love is equated to patience, kindness, lack of envy, and hiding one’s pride (1 Cor. 13:4). Love does not delight when other people are suffering, but always persevere and gives hope in times of trouble. It is God’s command that people should love their neighbors, as a great reward is kept for those who would commit themselves to do so.
The word “love” is normally overused, as people refer to it when they want to demonstrate affection of anything, even without any deep feeling. However, the Bible utilizes the word to express how God feels about His people. Love is freely presented to human beings and they do not necessarily need rewards to conform to it. Love that is not freely awarded is not true love. God opted to honor man with a free will, which would assist him to experience true love that is found in His creation. Consequently, God can derive pleasure when He sees His people loving each other. The free will enables man to love God cheerfully, but man is known of breaching the free will that God has given him. Human beings find it hard to express their love to their enemies, unlike God, who provide for all humans, regardless of their relationship with Him (Matthew 5:44). Human beings are relatively weak to believe that they can adhere to God’s command without any restrictions.
From Paul’s perspective, the traits of love are similar to the traits of God. God is patient and kind to human beings. He does not envy when blessing man with resources and wisdom. God is not self-seeking, and does not attract pleasure from evil. In the beginning, God chose to create man, who bore His image, and this implies that God is not selfish, for He could have decided to create another creature that did not resemble Him. Loving His creation is one component of what God’s love is. Stubblefield accepted that God is love, and for this reason, the world was made. God always perseveres when human go against His will. God’s love that Paul was trying to demonstrate is so heart-flooding to be matching with only a transcendent Beloved. A divine love, which is unconditional and enduring, can never be compared to the earthly love. God’s love is not restricted by Him as human beings always do towards one another. Thus, it is quite hard for human beings to love unconditionally, even when they are assured of a reward.
Loving our neighbors is an essence of being, for no individual can live in isolation. Participating in liturgy enables Christians to fulfill the second commandment of love. Liturgy enables Christians to enhance their relationship with God and, consequently, strengthen their connection with each other. Love is the substance that hold people’s lives, as it drives their thoughts, feelings, as well as their communication. Love is what enables human beings to remain closer to each other, to assist one another, and to offer their services without necessarily asking for compensation. Apart from being a feeling, love drives people to act on behalf of those who are weak. The story of the Good Samaritan challenges Christians to become good neighbors through loving and caring for others. The core feature of love is demonstrating affection to others, as this implies how united individuals can be when they exercise love.
When the Bible commands individuals to love their neighbors as they love themselves, it implies that individuals may forget that love is the origin of their happiness. Individuals may not attain happiness if they hate each other. Although the command of love is quite radical, it assists individuals to move from their sins. The desire for individual happiness breeds sin and expose individuals to pride and selfishness. Pride makes individuals to think that they can gain happiness without God and that other people do not mean much to their lives. Whoever fails to love others does not recognize God. Individuals should understand that without God, they can never attain the happiness. Hence, when seeking happiness, individuals should remember that there are other people who are suffering from hunger, sickness, and loss of hope.
Agape love incorporates the gift that God’s spirit offers to Christians for charity. Agape love is one in an existential state that can only be defined as charity or strong commitment to something, such as salvation. God’s commitment to the salvation for all is a sign of agape love, which enables Christians to commit themselves to love each other because God has demonstrated his love to them. Certainly, it is quite hard to love somebody without knowing anything about him/her. By letting His son to be sacrificed for human sin, God demonstrated agape love, as a form of charity. No human being has the capacity to demonstrate such love, thus, human beings were undeserving recipients of God’s love (1 John 3:1).
Some Christians tend to believe that God does not necessarily have any connection with earthly creatures, yet they still rely on God to love them. There is no basis for having two conflicting opinions about God and love. Love has its origin from God, whose motive, desire, and considerations are born out of love. Thus, God’s connection to human beings is demonstrated through love. God has a reason as to why we should love our neighbors. Some people say that they already know that God loves them, as if they do not understand that God’s love for human beings assists them to live in union with God, so that human beings can enjoy peace and joy. However, it is not all the time that individuals claim to be peaceful or happy. This is because they take for granted that God’s love is always there, yet they do not struggle to know what God requires from them. In addition, religious love may not breed real love because it is built on culture and is bound to develop in sinister ways.
Real love is expressed when individuals agree to share their happiness with their neighbors and accepting them without considering their social class or origin. Letting other people have pleasure on things that they like is a show of love. Love is not a reciprocity approach, where one should expect returns for favor. Christians cannot gain reward for love if they only love those who love them. Individuals should not forget their neighbors because they represent God in sharing their love. God’s love is manifested when individuals show love and compassion to their neighbors by being close to them at all times. Neighbor’s love does not create threat to self-love because God’s love is also demonstrated through self-love. Self-love is attained when an individual is capable of providing basic needs.
The Bible explains clearly on matters concerning God’s opinion on sinners to prove God’s love. In Ezekiel 33:11, God does not gain pleasure when He sees sinners die, for He does not want His people to end up in eternal punishment. God’s love is also extended to sinners who He treats with tenderness and compassion that they deserve. God allowed His Son to die for the sinners so that they can realize their sinful nature and repent. No human being could have sacrificed his life for another human being’s sin; hence, God’s love surpasses all forms of love. Nothing should disconnect individuals from the love that God has given them. Even in the periods of tribulation, anguish, persecution, famine, danger, and vulnerability, people should not think of leaving God’s love (Rom. 8:35). It is God’s love that makes people to win life’s battle, for there is no power or dominion that can separate people from God’s love.
The love that God has on human beings made Him offer His only Son to die for them so that they should not perish, but live to enjoy eternal life (Jn. 3:16). However, Christians may fail to demonstrate love to other people because of harboring hatred to God, who they believe is incapable of protecting them from evil deeds. It is not surprising to say that some Christians may harbor distorted and vicious view about God because the devil has managed to convince them that God does not love all times. The devil does not want Christians to receive God’s reward for obedience. He knows that humans’ hearts are quite weak, particularly when discouraged; hence, can be manipulated by instilling hate.
In conclusion, God’s love to humans is special and unconditional, and that is why humans cannot attain such love. God’s command to love our neighbors does not necessarily amount to a reward from Him, but assist us to lead a happy life with one another. Every human being would like to be happy and have somebody who cares and show love. However, human beings are usually driven by self-interests and jealous in their actions. It is God’s love that manifest in human beings that makes them love others. The study of love does not require further research, as the Bible offers all the answers that an individual wish to have. Loving others can be equated to sharing God’s word with other people. Christians should not let the devil deceive them, as God has the power to make them love their neighbors and to receive His reward.
Cuneo, Terence. “Love and Liturgy.” Journal Of Religious Ethics 43, no. 4 (December 2015): 587-605. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).
Hefling, Charles. “How wide is God’s mercy? (Cover story).” Christian Century 132, no. 23 (November 11, 2015): 22-27. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).
Stubblefield, Jean Anne. God’s Love for Us Our Christian Foundation. Bloomington, IN: West Bow Pr, 2013.
 Jean Anne Stubblefield, God’s Love for Us Our Christian Foundation. (Bloomington, IN: West Bow Pr, 2013), 9.
 Charles Hefling, “How wide is God’s mercy? (Cover story).” Christian Century 132, no. 23 (November 11, 2015): 23. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).
 Terence Cuneo, “Love and Liturgy.” Journal of Religious Ethics 43, no. 4 (December 2015): 587. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).
 Ibid., 591.
 Charles Hefling, “How wide is God’s mercy? (Cover story).” Christian Century 132, no. 23 (November 11, 2015): 24. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 22, 2016).
 Ibid., 25.
 Cuneo, “Love and Liturgy,” 590.
 Stubblefield, God’s Love for Us Our Christian Foundation, 12.