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Christmas: It’s about life of Christ, brethren!

On Sunday, December 25, Christians globally would celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. For them, it is a day to remember a man, born of lowly birth, whose positive impact still resonates 2,000 years thereafter. For them, it is a day of thanksgiving.

However, even when Christmas is a Christian celebration, it has gone beyond religion. It has become a celebration of all peoples, irrespective of  tribe, tongue and creed. Where people are not celebrating, in the Christian tradition, they acknowledge, directly or indirectly, that something is going on at Christmas.

I am always fascinated by the things that follow Christmas. I am thrilled by the decorations, for instance. Oh, my goodness! It’s exciting seeing how people, especially outside Africa, decorate their houses with lights and flowers. The glow of buildings, roads and public places, lightened up by Christmas light decorations in the night, is always a sight to behold. The lights leave the night bright.

The merrymaking that goes with Christmas is also something to remember. In this part of the world, people would not forego their Christmas rice and chicken. Whether tasty or not, Christmas rice makes the people’s day. Even at a time when rice is close to N50,000 per bag in Nigeria, families will eat rice. As they say, there’s no stopping Christmas and the things that go with it.

However, Christmas goes beyond the celebrations and festivities.  It  should be a time of sober reflection, for Christians, Muslims, Hindus and adherents of other faiths. It is about Jesus Christ, his character, his being. There is a big lesson to learn from the life and times of Jesus Christ. Even though divine, that a man born in a manger, among animals, would rise from the ashes of this lowliness to become one of the greatest people on earth is something to think about.

I have always reflected on the biblical story of the birth of Jesus Christ, how Mary, the mother, went from one inn (hotel or lodge) to another, looking for where she could be admitted to rest and deliver her baby. Mary could not find a place in any of the inns and had to settle for a manger. Pray, were those who rejected Mary discerning enough to know that Jesus Christ was to be born, they could have evicted some guests to have him born in their place. 

In the manger Jesus Christ was born, but he became great and did great things, signifying that where one is born does not matter much, whether it is in the most expensive hospital with state-of-the-art equipment or at home, into the hands of women who act as birth attendants. What matters is the way the person lives his or her life or what impact the person makes in the lives of others, using his talent and resources.

At Christmas, therefore, mankind should know that living the life of Jesus Christ is the ultimate. According to the scriptures, right from childhood till 33, when he was crucified, Jesus Christ went about doing good.  He fed the hungry. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He preached a message of love, forgiveness, tolerance, service and godliness. His leadership was a lesson in service, as he devoted his life in the service of the people.

In his majesty, Jesus Christ had no airs. He had powers but never misused them. His was power with control, unlike mortals, who exercise power without control most times. As a growing child, I used to see this lorry (Gwongworo) with a message at its back: “If men were God.” Then, that message made little meaning, owing to my level of understanding. However, in adulthood, the impetus of that phrase dawned on me. No doubt, if men were God, the world would be “nasty, brutish and short.” Men would misuse such power of God. Oppression would reign. Tolerance will be non-existent. Exercise of unrighteous dominion would be manifest.

For us as a people, at a time of near state of hopelessness, in a country pervaded by insecurity, hate and discontent, a deeper reflection on the life of Jesus Christ would be of great help.  We should try to be like Jesus Christ, whose birth we are celebrating and remembering this season. I like so much one hymn by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, entitled: “I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus.” It tells a story of love, compassion and kindness. The hymn says: “I’m trying to be like Jesus; I’m following in his ways: I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say; At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice; But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers… (Chorus) Love one another as Jesus loves me: Trying to show kindness in all that you do: Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought: For these are the things Jesus taught.”

At a time of banditry, at a time of insurgency, at a time of hate, Nigerians should be like Jesus. We should love one another, serve one another, show kindness and compassion as well as tolerate one another. Generally, the culture of ‘live and let live’ should be our guiding principle. This is Christmas, brethren!

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