Homes, streets, villages, hamlets and cities across the world wear magnificent looks today, December 25, as the young and old bask in the excitement of Christmas to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. From scriptures, we learn that the birth of Christ was foretold by prophets thousands of years before it occurred. And when He was born, it was celebrated, not just by men on earth, but also by angels in heaven. It is, therefore, not surprising that every Christmas is accompanied by uncommon enthusiasm, excitement and enjoyment.
As Christians and their well-wishers celebrate this magnificent anniversary, it is crucial for all to reckon with the essence and implications of the coming of Jesus Christ to the human world. For instance, Prophet Isaiah described Jesus, long before His birth, as the ‘Prince of Peace,” meaning that the signature of his dispensation would be peace on earth. In line with this prophesy, in the 33 years he lived on Earth, Jesus preached unqualified peace, admonishing his disciples to “pray for your enemies.” As against the burden put upon sinners who were required to engage in complex sacrifices for sin under the Old Testament, Jesus instituted pardon for sin through his own atonement.
His advocacy for moral sincerity, rather than strict adherence to religious rituals, earned Him the wrath of even the religious leaders of His dispensation, but He was undeterred. Though the opposition against Him was stiff, the popularity of Christ among the social outcasts and the oppressed increased to the amazement of his opponents. The cornerstone of his message was and is love. In his sermons, parables and wise sayings, He told His followers that those who would enter into the Kingdom of God are those who care for the sick, feed the hungry, visit and comfort those in prison, those who love their neighbours as they would love themselves. No wonder, even after His crucifixion, the way of life and faith Jesus instituted continued to endure from generation to generation, spreading to all parts of the world.
Christmas season is, therefore, an opportunity for not only Christians, but all Nigerians to reflect on the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ. In Nigeria, some of the common challenges besetting us, and which have hindered social harmony are greed, corruption, injustice, bigotry and hatred. In His teachings, Jesus abhorred all these, encouraging His followers to shun them. His injunctions have universal application, as all major religions emphasize the need for their adherents to eschew corrupt ways of life and rather embrace love, charity, and good neighbourliness.
We encourage Nigerians to celebrate by expressing love to one another by giving out gifts to the poor, indigent and to their neighbours. In this season, we should endeavor to reconcile our differences with so-called enemies; we should pardon those who have offended us and extend a hand of fellowship to them. We should eschew violence and other tendencies that could lead to bloodshed, carnage and brutality, which have been the ugly experiences of this country in recent years. We call on government also to put in place measures that would cushion the difficult conditions faced by the ordinary Nigerian today.
As we celebrate, we urge Nigerians to be careful and security conscious. Those travelling from one part of the country to another in order to meet with their loved ones should keep to speed limits while driving on the highway to avoid fatal accidents. Over the years, Federal Road Safety Corps [FRSC] statistics show trends which indicate that more accidents and deaths occur during festive seasons like Christmas, more than at any other period. Travellers should ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and in good condition before embarking on the usually long trips. Drivers should avoid overloading their vehicles and resist the temptation of travelling at night to avoid being exposed to armed robbers, bandits, and kidnappers.
We wish all Nigerians a Merry Christmas!