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Moral imperative

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10.10

Pondering the link between faith and morality brings one hard up against the "why?" question: Why be good? Is it simply because it is the right thing to do - for one's own sake and for the good of society? That is surely not a bad reason and moral codes, particularly The Ten Commandments, have served society well for centuries, while securing the respect of even non-believers for religion as being the bedrock of social cohesion, with God as the "divine policeman" - though often more imagined than real.

Or should morality be seen more as a means to an end? If so, what is the end to which morality is the means, or the route? One might suggest that to which Jesus offers himself as the answer: life in abundance. According to philosophers the "art of living" requires three essential properties: to be alive, to be alive in a satisfactory way and for that satisfaction to be ever-increasing. It is important to understand that eternal life is not simply about living forever, it is about enjoying a quality of life that keeps on improving...

For this to be the case, abundant life must be externally focussed. If it came at the expense of others or of one's environment, the surrounding degradation would quickly reverse the cycle of improvement. On the other hand, as the source of mutual flourishing, abundant life becomes a moral dynamo, countering the evil of suffering and degradation with the good of recovery and improvement. And this, in turn, transforms our understanding of God. Rather than cowering from him as our "divine policeman", we delight in him as the wellspring of all that is good.



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