Suffering is described in a wider perspective to encompass very many issues other than biological infliction of pain. The level of relationships amongst people within societies may at times result in hurting of each other or at times the result is always of help to one another. Interdependence forms one of the basic structure of personal existence which is also dependent upon supernatural being represented as the Holy Trinity.
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Interdependence is all about unity of purpose and solidarity that reflects God’s life. Irrespective of the number of people within a society, individual efforts and contribution should be geared towards mutual edification of man. The nature of care and responsibility is further described by St Paul as follows;
“…just as in a single human body there are many limbs and organs, all of different functions, so all of us, united with Christ, form one body, serving individually as limbs and organs to one another” (Moberly 1978, 4).
This is a good description of Christ’s love that should punctuate existence in any society. The unity of God within the society determines the level of complexity available. However, man should still show unity of purpose in the midst of such kind of complexity.
The good or bad actions are considered the fruits of interdependence which results in the use of terms such as sin and suffering (Moberly 1978, 5). However, morality is everybody’s responsibility and should not be one-sided or rather biased (Moberly 1978, 7).
The issue of interdependence should be restored within community settings, this should encompass restoration of self-giving which leads to control of suffering. God is a just father who administers justice to all; therefore the causes of injustice acts within societies can be attributed to man’s fallen nature in action.
It is a choice for man to either ignore God while in midst of suffering or complain about God, either way suffering or pain is still inevitable (Moberly 1978, 10). The existence of God as moral all-powerful being should not be ignored at any cost. God created human being in His own image to reflect His goodness and avoid all kinds of evil (Moberly 1978, 11-15).
Thesis statement: The issue of suffering is inevitable despite different perspectives from religious groups
- Innocent and guilty suffering are considered to be results of some actions considered to be either good or bad
- There is big contradiction in the understanding of what suffering entails especially from religious point of view
The issue of innocent suffering can well be understood after the inclusion of atonement sacrifice. Suffering is considered to be as a result of sin or actions done contrary to the rules of nature.
Innocent suffering is considered separately from guilty suffering since their existence is widely felt within different community set-ups. Despite all these it should be acknowledged by all human beings that the essence of suffering is inevitable (Moberly 1978, 30).
Sin and suffering are somehow related depending on the kind of actions preceding each. According to Christianity the best and commendable way to suffer is to suffer on behalf of others, this is referred to as vicarious suffering and is contrary to suffering for self which assumes the meaning of innocent suffering (Moberly 1978, 31).
Christianity believes in eternity and this can only be earned when one’s sins are forgiven by God the father and creator of eternity. The issue of reincarnation practiced by the Hindu and the Buddhists seem to be unacceptable in Christian set-up.
Reincarnation asserts that rebirth of human being takes place to enable continuity on suffering and that the nature of rebirth is corollary to the magnitude of sin committed. The Buddhists place so much emphasis on suffering rather than the wrong did (Moberly 1978, 35).
“Buddhism does not maintain a belief in a god; hence one ought not to speak of its approach as a kind of theodicy, which by definition must include reference to God” (Moberly 1978, 47).
They have the belief that guilty suffering is a form of discipline to the ignorant and it comes in surplus.The story of Job gives a good example justifying the suggestion that claims lack of inherent connection between righteousness and prosperity (Moberly 1978, 47).
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Guilty suffering tends to focus so much on human responsibility which leads to some unexpected actions. It concurs with the fact that freedom presents human beings with the right to either choose good action or inflict injury. Equation theory maintains that everyone suffers in proportion to the kind of sin one commits which poses the question as to whether the equation is applicable within the space of given lifetime.
It is a belief in some societies that some suffer due to the sins of those who preceded them, or other consequences of sin are transferable from one generation to another unless forgiven through God’s intervention
Thesis statement: Conversion and restoration are the key factors that marks. Beginning of change in an individual
- The act of forgiveness is one of the best experiences one can ever have in Christian life
- Christian life is seen as one of the highest level of interdependence within the society
- The acts of reconciliation and restoration are some of the basics to successful Christian living
The process of conversion is believed to posses the ability of restoring one’s good moral standards. This can only be achieved through accepting Christ as the savior of one’s life.
The process of conversion follows channel of processes, the first referred to as exorcism which focuses on one’s deliverance from external sources other than that of Christ. The Christian living is more concerned with being set free from the forces of evil and at times is never restricted to evil alone. Exorcism plays a major role in bringing to reality that reorientation that occurs in individuals.
There’s complete renewal and healing of one’s mind that enables them to deal with their filthy past in a more confident manner (Moberly 1978, 122-123). Confessing Christ should be an individual’s decision not generalization within the society and should be accompanied by baptism which symbolizes the whole process of being fully identified with Christ’s resurrection
The process to maturity after conversion demands adoption of Christian principles which includes prayerful life. This reinforces one’s relationship with Christ and should therefore not be taken for granted. A clear relationship with Christ guarantees good fruit by the grace of the living God. The relationship should be based on trust and not made counterfeit.
Self justification is not applicable in this kind of life, since no one has got the ability to transform himself from evil acts to good morals except by the power of the Almighty God (Moberly 1978, 127).
Cleansing is a continuous process and takes place as long as one still has good relationship with God. Man’s obedience and God’s call for renewal are very much interrelated. However, the call demands full response for good results and experiences.
“The active life leads into and it’s taken up by the contemplative life, in that both are stages in the development of one’s relationship with God.”
Life in Christ should be characterized by good actions and deeds borne from good thoughts. These are also identified in the following quote from St Teresa of Avila’s “This is the end of prayer, my daughters, this is what the spiritual marriage is for; from it are always born works, works!” (Moberly 1978, 132).
Christian knowledge is obtained through direct communication with God through prayer it can also be achieved through radical silence. This is also made easy by God revealing Himself within the ordinary environment of human existence.
This makes the process simpler and more basic to every human understanding such that one is without a reason for not accepting the Lordship of God over his/her life. The knowledge of one’s self and that of God is essential for pure and holy living that leads to eternity (Moberly 1978, 134-135).
Suffering is not only brought by evil as some may want to assert, but involves lots of ethical instances and questions that should be addressed appropriately. Many practices including research work have linked suffering to be a resultant consequence of wrong-doing. The field of wrong doing involves two types of people, those who suffer innocently and those who suffer under the influence of guilt (Moberly 1978, 1).
People should have general concern of their fellows within any society set-up so as to reflect the fullness of God head bestowed upon Jesus Christ by God the Father.
This gives the meaning of existence to encompass not only depending on others but having responsibility for others as well. Therefore, entire solution to suffering can be obtained from intimate relationship with God who gives peace of heart and deeper understanding in all happenings within human environment.
Moberly, Elizabeth. 1978. Suffering, Innocent and Guilty, 1-135. London: SPCK publishers.