Christmas and the challenges of Nigeria
It is Christmas Day again and Christians all over the world celebrate the great event of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Saviour whose remarkable life of virtue, teaching and sacrificial death on the Cross of Calvary form the bedrock of the over two thousand year-old Christian religion.
Even in a world overrun by secularism and materialism as well as other social forces impacting negatively on spirituality and morality, a world witnessing an inexorable decline in Christian values and Christian worship, the continued influence of Jesus Christ is nevertheless unmistakable. Christians should therefore reflect on Jesus Christ’s compassionate lifestyle and instructions and apply His teachings in their individual lives. Through His love, Jesus Christ demonstrated God’s mercy and compassion for mankind. So, Christians should always show mercy to all in their communities with giving and charity works that go a long way in touching the lives of those around them.
In a wider world begging for exemplars, Nigeria occupies a unique place in that deficiency. The soul of the country appears lost and the people are yoked with leadership at all levels that is far from exemplary. As a result, a blessed nation seems cursed and rudderless in life’s ocean.
This should engage the attention of all even in this festive season. Christmas, of course, has come to be associated with festivities, reunions, the celebration of family and friendship, with the exchange of greetings, visits and gifts. For Nigerians, however, this year’s Christmas is bringing to a close, a year of forlorn hopes and shattered expectations. The majority of the nation’s people have been struggling to cope with leadership at all levels that has not brought them any relief, but greater agony occasioned by worsening economic situation, decaying social infrastructure and even more widespread social insecurity. The pang of fuel scarcity is currently biting all over the country and the mood is dark in Nigeria today.
Reports of monumental corruption and mindless looting of the nation’s treasury continue as though there had not been a change in leadership. The fight against corruption appears lost as the new combatants in town seem to have surrendered to the superior firepower of graft. The rising cases of kidnapping and armed robbery in many parts of the country have made every Nigerian a prisoner in his own land. So hostile is the land that many of its offspring would do anything including trekking across the desert to escape it and not minding the risks being taken. As a result, when not dying on the voyage, Nigerians have ended up as slaves being sold in the open market.
In spite of the agony and the social chaos that have buffeted in the country, the celebratory spirit of the Nigerian is one that is most irrepressible. As this newspaper noted before, this incurable optimism in the Nigerian is what appears to have secured the peaceful quiet that prevails in many quarters today amid the subsisting trauma of life.
Nigerians, their pains notwithstanding, live the truism that Christmas is indeed the proclamation of good news. It is a celebration of joy and of hope. The Christ whose birth is marked today has given the world a roadmap to abundant life, peace and prosperity. Taken seriously and applied in individual and corporate lives, the values preached by Jesus Christ, namely, sacrificial love, justice, compassion, leadership by service, forgiveness, humility and purity of heart, will transform Nigeria for the better. And so, in the middle of the festivities of today, Christians in Nigeria are once again challenged to live up to the core values of their religion, and impact positively on their socio-cultural and political environment. Christians are challenged to reject the prevailing cult of selfishness, to shun the widespread cult of pleasure, to reject the dominant cult of money and strive to live wholesome and purposeful lives devoted to the advancement of the common good.
It is time for Nigerians, both in leadership and followership, to exhibit the attributes of Jesus Christ in all departments in order to build a just, peaceful and prosperous nation.
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