REV. STEPHEN JONES, pastor, First Baptist Church of Kansas City: God is eternal. When God loves, it is with an eternal love — a love with no beginning or end.
Time itself does not limit God. The Psalmist said as much, “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past …” (90:4)
God created us with eternity in mind. We were created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26), “a little lower than God” (Psalm 8:5). In other words, human beings aren’t only mortal. We live in time and space, but we aren’t limited by it.
That is why we speak of having a soul, even though it can’t be removed by a surgeon. That is why we are spiritual beings, capable of enjoying transcendent moments. It is the source of our creativity and imagination.
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The eternal God placed eternity within us. I don’t see how I can limit God by saying, “Life on Earth is final. There is nothing beyond.”
I believe that God loves us for eternity and that somehow, someway, we will be held in God’s presence for eternity — not our physical bodies, but our souls. Therefore, I don’t really fear death. I’d enjoy living into old age, having a full life span. But death is my friend, not my enemy, because I believe that the strains and troubles of this world belong here, and not in the eternal love that is the life to come.
“Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.” (I Corinthians 13:12)
A.M. BHATTACHARYYA, Hindu faith adviser, Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council: The Hindu concept of afterlife is based on the belief that every person has a soul that is self-shining, imperishable, eternal and divine.
Body dies, but soul being divine never dies. At death, the body being a material product goes back to earth. The embodied soul leaves the body and migrates into a new body that is being formed in a mother’s womb. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth continues.
The goal of life is to break this cycle to attain mokhsha (liberation). At this stage the soul discards the body at the time of the liberated person’s death and unites with the supreme soul that is God. This is the ultimate stage and the most cherished and blissful stage in the evolution of individual soul.
According to the doctrine of karma and reincarnation, the quality of afterlife depends on the karma (deeds or actions) of the previous life. When a person dies, the soul leaves the body and departs with the subtle body (mind stuff), which carries all the fruits, good and bad, of the person’s past karma.
If the accumulated karma is positive, the new life will be better, spiritually and materially, and close to God. If negative, the new life will be worse and away from God. There is no eternal damnation of the wrong-doer.
The person will always have another chance of doing good karma and overcoming the evil effects of previous bad karma. The belief in the doctrine of karma and reincarnation gives one an incentive to lead a life of kindness, compassion, equanimity and peace.
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