John 3:16, “Eternal Life,” part 1
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

John 3:16, “Eternal Life,” part 1

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
It is natural that humans, like all creatures, fear death. Humans find mortality is particularly terrifying for at least two reasons. First, we recognize its inevitability. Second, we fear the possibility that death will result in the permanent destruction of our sense of identity. Not surprisingly, nearly all religions reassure the faithful that they will continue to live in some kind of spiritual realm. With little, if any, evidence about what happens to our sense of self after we die, I will not take a stand on such possibilities.
I think I can, however, say something about our current state of existence. I think humans live in a state of tension between egotistical, self-centered desires and a desire to feel connected to the world around us. On the one hand, all experiences of the world occur in our own minds, and it is understandable that our pleasures and pains are of paramount importance to us. On the other hand, perhaps because we are social creatures, perhaps because we need to feel part of something greater than ourselves, or perhaps for other reasons, we want to feel a part of the larger whole. For this to happen, we need to be at peace with those around us.
A problem is that, in a world of scarcity, this can’t happen. Our self-interests conflict with those of others, and we find it impossible to be at peace with each other. But, what if belief in the Son grounded our outlook on life? In other words, would having Jesus as the center of our faith resolve this conflict? One reason I think so is that I think a crucial element of believing in the Son is belief in the Realm of God that Jesus described. In the Realm of God, there was no scarcity, because people were satisfied with what God had provided and because people shared with each other to make sure that basic needs were met.
How might the Realm of God be tantamount to “eternal life”? Can the Realm of God be realized in this imperfect world? I will consider these questions next essay.

Go on to: John 3:16, “Eternal Life,” part 2
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