CRE1: Respect for the gift of life

This unit describes the concept of life, love and friendship and what the Bible teaches about the three aspects.

Living and non – living things and how they contribute to human life

Living things like animals and plants can interact with the non-living environment, including the soil, climate and water, to cause effects on each other that can be positive, negative or neutral. For example, animals benefit from a non-living environment with plenty of water and air because these are essential for survival. If a living organism cannot adapt to its non-living surroundings (such as a lack of sunlight or too hot or cold temperature) or cannot get what it needs from these surroundings (such as water), then the living organism will have problems surviving and will thus be negatively affected.

In addition, living organisms in an environment without sufficient non-living resources may have trouble getting what they need for survival due to competition for those resources.

Some examples on interactions between non-living and living things include plants getting their minerals from the soil and making food using sunlight, animals needing a specific temperature range for their body processes to function properly and sea creatures needing either saltwater or freshwater.

How culture helps us to understand the meaning of life

Definition of culture

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

Basic Africa views on life

The African concept of caring involves all the members of the village or community, family, relatives, tribe and ancestors. In the African community, life is lived with others in a group, tribe or clan. There is no individualism or
privacy accepted in the village. Getui reminds us vividly about our responsibility in the village. She states: “It is the responsibility of the whole village to care for life, especially of the young and old. It is also our responsibility to help them towards the restoration of the wholeness” (Getui &Theuri 2002:176).

In the African community or village, human life is sacred and must be preserved, defended, supported and enhanced as a matter of priority above everything else. I agree with Kobia’s statement that: “The most crucial and critical aspect of this engagement is grounded in a vision of life as a web of reciprocal relationships by which human beings find themselves interconnected with one another, and with the rest of creation” (Kobia 2003:1).
“Human beings are created in God’s image, and that, whenever human life is undermined or destroyed, God seeks ways of restoring it within the village”(Waruta 2002:16).

The wholeness of human life are co-workers with God in the primary task of perfecting divine creation. By contrast, Kobia emphasises that“the fullness of life, shared by all created things is experienced in the harmony of the interdependence, and in their common dependence on God, the ground
of all being” (Kobia 2003:9).

Sharing life together in the village reminds us of God who created us. As we care for one another we also care for God who created us. The African proverb sums up the concept of caring in a beautiful way: “It takes a whole village to raise up a child” (Zondi 1996:62).
As human beings, we still need the support of others; yet such support is at times inadequate owing to the
changing situation in the world. The problem we encounter is that we are not all equipped to care adequately, because we do not all have the gift of caring.For example, our own personality could be the problem even though we might often blame others for our shortcomings.

Our call to life as expressed in the Bible
(Psalm s 42:2 Ezekiel 37:14,Deuteronomy 4:1; Psalm 16:11 Psalm 39:9 John 5:26, 10:10, 14:6;Luke 10:27 – 28 2Corinthians 4:14;Revelations 21:4.)

This is the moment when all human life begins. Genesis 1 describes the creation of the entire universe. As part of that story, men and women are also formed (Genesis 1:27). Genesis chapter 2 narrows focus on the creation of the first man, giving additional details, and helping us to see that humanity is special among all the rest of creation.

In Genesis 1:1, God’s creation is described using the term bā’rā, which implies “creation” in the sense of “coming into being,” or of “something from nothing.” But here, in Genesis 2:7, the creation of the first human being uses the Hebrew word for “formed:” yi’ser. This describes the actions of an artist, a sculptor, or a potter. This term is specific in that it always refers to work done on some existing substance. In this case, God is forming human life from the ground itself. That Hebrew word is ā’pār, which refers to dirt, powder, debris, or ash. Image result for life

Following the storyline of this verse, after being “formed,” man was merely a lump of well-formed dirt. It’s what God did next that made us alive: He breathed into the man’s nose the breath of life. Literally, God breathed life into the lump, transforming it into a living being, or “creature,” or “soul.”

All of life originated with God, but human life began with the personal breath of God. Without God, we simply would not live. The name Adam is directly from the Hebrew ā’dām, which literally means “man.” This name reflects the dust from which we were formed: the Hebrew word for ground is adamah.

All of this, as one can imagine, adds fuel to the debate over exactly how God went about bringing human life onto the earth. Regardless of the specific process involved, this verse clearly states that God Himself formed man out of the dust of the ground. God personally designed the size, shape, and detail of the first man. God was intentional, fashioning exactly what He set out to make. According to the book of Genesis, the form of that first man was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).

What destroys life?

SICKNESS

Sometimes it’s not your fault if you’re sick. But, don’t fool yourself – most of the time it’s 100% your fault.

When my stomach hurts it might mean I was too stressed the day before. Or it might mean too much popcorn at the movies. Or too much to drink last night. You can make many choices to prevent sickness or improve health. You already know what they are. You don’t need to read them in a book.

  • Deforestation – We exploit our forest for so many reasons like for creating our own space for infrastructure development or for the use in timber industry etc. This also leads to destruction of natural habitat of many wild animals and birds.
  • Nuclear testing – Nuclear weapon testing is the most dangerous human activity which destroys nature on a much wider scale. These tests are conducted either on the surface or under the ground or even sometimes under the water. These tests results into an uncontrolled release of radioactive materials which has several harmful health effects on human,animals and the whole nature.

Respect for personal relationships

What is Friendship?

Friendships are relationships that involve two very critical dimensions – interdependence and voluntary participation,” explains Northern Illinois University psychologist and friendship expert Dr. Suzanne Degges-White

How people develop friendship

Developing close friendships can also have a powerful impact on your physical health. Lack of social connection can be as damaging as smoking, drinking too much, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. Friends are even tied to longevity. A recent Swedish study found that, along with physical activity, maintaining a rich network of friends can add significant years to your life.

How people develop through friendship

While developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort, good friends can:

Improve your mood. Spending time with happy and positive friends can elevate your mood and boost your outlook.

Help you to reach your goals. Whether you’re trying to get fit, give up smoking, or otherwise improve your life, encouragement from a friend can really boost your willpower and increase your chances of success.

Reduce your stress and depression. Having an active social life can bolster your immune system and help reduce isolation, a major contributing factor to depression.

Support you through tough times. Even if it’s just having someone to share your problems with, friends can help you cope with serious illness, the loss of a job or loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or any other challenges in life.

Support you as you age. As you age, retirement, illness, and the death of loved ones can often leave you isolated. Having people you can turn to for company and support can provide purpose as you age and serve as a buffer against depression, disability, hardship and loss.

Boost your self-worth. Friendship is a two-way street, and the “give” side of the give-and-take contributes to your own sense of self-worth. Being there for your friends makes you feel needed and adds purpose to your life.

Friendship in the Old Testament context
(1 Samuel 18: 1‐ 4, 2 Samuel 1: 11 – 12; 2 Samuel 17 and 26; 2 Samuel 9: 1 – 13)

This uplifting collection of Bible verses about friendship considers the value and celebrates the blessings of God in the gift of true friends.

The Bible offers a great highlight and guidance on how friendship should be conducted and these are;

1. The first problem in the world was not sin but solitude.

At each step of the way when God created the world, he pronounced that everything was “good.” But then once he created Adam, a statement startles us: something is not good. “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). This was before the fall — before sin had entered the world. Adam was not yet complete; he needed community.

What does this show us? Although our deepest problems are sin and idolatry, our first problem was social isolation. Therefore, even today, in a world filled with society, Proverbs warns that the one who “isolates himself. . . breaks out against all sound judgment” (Prov. 18:1).

God always strove to build and re-build his friendship with man. He restores friendship with himself, as he did with Enoch and Noah, who “walked with God”—a Hebrew expression of friendship (Gen. 5:24; Gen. 6:9). Abraham was called “a friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8). Moses spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Ex. 33:11). He drew near to all who called upon him with true faith.

Image result for life

Old Testament advice on friendship
Ecclesiastes 6:6 – 13;Ecclesiastes 6:14 –

True and Lasting Friendship Can Occur Suddenly

A person of integrity is easy to recognize. Instantly, we want to spend time with them and enjoy their company.

After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. (1 Samuel 18:1-3)

Godly Friends Give Good Advice

The soundest advice comes from the Bible; therefore, friends who remind us of helpful Scriptures are wise counselors. They keep us on the right path.

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray. (Proverbs 12:26, NLT)

Gossip Separates Best Friends

Protect your friend’s reputation as you would a brother’s or sister’s. Gossip has no place in true friendship.

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends. (Proverbs 16:28, NLT)

Loyal Friends Love Through Difficult Times

As we are loyal to our friends during hard times, they will be loyal to us. Stand by your friends and build them up.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. (Proverbs 17:17, NLT)

Faithful Friends Are a Rare Treasure

One of the most loving acts in life is sticking by a friend no matter what. Our godliness is measured by how true we are to our friends.

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NLT)

Reliable Friends Are Hard to Find

Talk is cheap. We may not always approve of our friends’ actions, but we can always be an encourager in the ways of God.

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? (Proverbs 20:6, NLT)

Purity and Integrity Gain the Friendship of Kings

Deception earns contempt, but humble integrity is respected by everyone. Resist temptation. Be a person of honor instead.

Whoever loves a pure heart and gracious speech will have the king as a friend. (Proverbs 22:11, NLT)

The Wrong Friends Can Have a Negative Influence

If you hang out with angry people, you’ll find their attitude is contagious. Instead, be mature and work calmly to solve problems.

Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25, NLT)

Sincere Friends Speak the Truth in Love, Even When it Hurts

Tactful correction is one of the most difficult parts of friendship. Find fault with the behavior, not the person.

An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (Proverbs 27:5-6, NLT)

Counsel From a Friend Is Pleasing

The more we care about a friend, the more we will want to build them up. Sincere praise is a treasured gift.

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. (Proverbs 27:9, NLT)

Friends Shape and Sharpen One Another

We all need the objective help of a friend to become better people.

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17, NLT)

True Friends Strengthen and Help Each Other

When competition is removed from friendship, then real growth begins. A true friend is a valuable ally.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)

Friendship Is Marked by Sacrifice

A strong friendship is never easy. It takes work. If you are happy to sacrifice for another, then you’ll know you are a real friend.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. (John 15:13-15, NLT)

Believers Enjoy Friendship with God

Being a friend of God is the greatest gift on earth. To know you are deeply loved by the Lord of All Creation brings genuine joy.

For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. (Romans 5:10, NLT)

Examples of Friendships in the Bible

  • David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-3, 20:17, 42; 2 Samuel 1:26)
  • King David and Abiathar (1 Samuel 22:23)
  • David and Nahash (2 Samuel 10:2)
  • David and Hushai (2 Samuel 15:32–37)
  • Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:2)
  • Job’s Friends (Job 2:11)
  • Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17)
  • Paul’s Ministry Friends (Romans 16:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Philippians 2:25; Colossians 4:7, 14; 2 Timothy 1:2-4; 1 Philemon

Ways through which Jesus expressed his love and friendship to people during his life and today

Jesus expressed his great love for people in ten dramatic ways. The gospels show us his immense compassion for the suffering, his attentive listening presence, and his energetic celebration of the lives around him.

The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, he said to them, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that through it the Son of God may be glorified.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus. (Jn11:3-5)Jesus’ friendship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus is very different from other friendships depicted in the gospels. 
 
 One can only infer that there are different degrees of friendship. For instance, my friendships with my friends are different from my relationship with my cousins. The same can be said to Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus and his sisters. Even though Jesus loves everyone equally and infinitely, Jesus’ love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha is in a different degree. For example, Jesus’ love for his mother Mary is clearly in a different degree than any of his apostles or disciples.So, this special affection between Jesus, Lazarus and his sisters is certainly in a different degree with anyone else. In addition, the gospel of John tells us that when Jesus saw Mary weeping, Jesus too ‘groaned in spirit and was troubled… And Jesus wept’ (Jn11:32-36)
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 Here Jesus communicates that Lazarus and his sisters are very dear to his heart. Even though Jesus knew that he could raise Lazarus and restore him to his sisters,Jesus still feel a groaning within his spirit and was troubled. This reaction of Jesus to Lazarus’ death does not only show his special affection towards Lazarus and his sisters, but also his humanity. ‘Jesus wept’ (Jn 11:35) expresses how Jesus shares our vulnerability and humanity, and through this way Jesus brought redemption to humanity.
For Jesus defines the ultimate meaning of love and friendship by stating that ‘no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ The common meaning of love and friendship in our contemporary understanding would be more like this: we laugh, talk, eat and drink together with our friends, one might also say that friends listen to one another’s story or we might help out a friend in need, but laying down ones life for a friend as a gesture of true friendship is not held to be necessary or ideal.
 She added; “Jesus’ ‘laying down his robe’ anticipates his ‘laying down his life’ in friendship.”
Jesus breaks down the idea of the master/servant relationship by washing the apostles’ feet, promoting the apostles from being his servants to being his friends. The washing of the feet can also be seen as a symbolic action of Jesus’ limitless love for his friends and an action that symbolizes his sharing of his knowledge of God to them. Therefore, one caninfer that through the apostles’ friendship with Jesus, they were able to understand who Jesus really is, and what God was truly like. Through this friendship the apostles experienced a personal relationship with God. Through the apostles’ faith and beliefs we too can come to share in Jesus’ unconditional friendship with humanity and justification with God.

Obstacles to friendship

Friendship is undervalued

Like a sunroof or cupholders, we tend to think of friendship as a ‘nice to have’. We do not consider it essential but an added extra. The result of this thinking is that we have a low estimation of friendship. If you believe something is not necessary you are unlikely to think it is important. But as I argued in a previous post defining friendship biblically, “Friendship involves complete vulnerability, the joining of two people’s souls in a wonderful love that reflects the nature of God.” This should not be undervalued but undertaken with concerted devotion.

Marriage has supplanted friendship

WeddingWhile I affirm that marriage is also a tremendous gift from God I fear that an unhealthy emphasis on it means friendship is overshadowed, and friends are forgotten. We make the mistake of believing that one person (our spouse) will be able to meet all of our relational and emotional needs, as if one single relationship (marriage) removes the need for all others.

Increased mobility

We move around, relocate for work and chase our ambitions into new neighbourhoods and countries. This impermanence is relationally disorienting and probably one of the reasons marriages turn inward and become isolated. Anyone who has relocated will know that finding community and creating new friendships is challenging, and often ends in loneliness. As Rod Dreher writes in The Benedict Option, “If you are going to put down spiritual roots…you need to stay in one place long enough for them to go deep.”

Technology

Following from the previous point, perpetually moving around we convince ourselves that we can remain ‘connected’. I will admit that I am indebted to platforms such as Skype and FaceTime but mediated communication (and friendship) falls short of the true glory of friendship. Despite all the benefits of these tools, which we ought to also praise God for, they are simply no substitute. 1000 friends on Facebook cannot stave my loneliness; nor can a video call provide the physical comfort and presence of a friend when it is desperately needed.

We are suspicious of intimacy

FriendshipIn his book titled Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill develops what he calls the “Freudian myth”, the idea that the terminus of intimacy between two people is always romantic or sexual. On once occasion, after speaking to teenagers about friendship some of the guys came up to me and said words like vulnerability, affection and intimacy cannot exist between guys for fear of being perceived as homosexuals. We might easily laugh that off, but most adults probably limit those adjectives to romantic relationships. But when we see two friends visibly loving delighting in each other we assume they desire something more than friendship.

Unbiblical idea of masculinity

Admittedly a generalisation and perhaps this is linked with the previous point, many men I know stick to the shallows in their friendships, revelling in the superficial and bonding over the inane. A lot of people have the strange notion that being a man means independence, strength, apathy and the complete childish avoidance of anything deemed effeminate. This has not resulted in generations of impressive men but boys with serious emotional and social limitations.

 

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