To make this a Good Friday
As Nigerians join the rest of the world in celebrating this year’s Good Friday, it is a time for sober reflection on the state of a nation so blessed but seeming to live under a curse. With so much God-given resources, Nigeria remains, sadly, a giant in stupor and in need of redemption. This day must therefore be seen as one for soul-searching and decision-making on how to achieve that redemption.
Because the central article of faith for Christians is that Jesus Christ’s redemption is hinged upon his death and resurrection, this is a major occasion for all humanity. As this newspaper once wrote, Good Friday is the apogee of the season of passion when Jesus suffered the ultimate humiliation of crucifixion on the cross; when he paid the ultimate price for the salvation of the world. The multitude of believers across the world today, and a succession of believers through the over 2000-year history of Christianity therefore celebrate his death for its vicarious and atoning value.
Good Friday in Christianity caps the 40-day period of Lent, which like the Muslim Ramadan is a period of prayers, fasting, works of charity, self-denial, self-mortification and the pursuit of other high spiritual and moral virtues.
There is, of course, an irony to the description of this day as Good Friday. It, ordinarily, should be a day of sorrow and of mourning over the killing of an innocent person who did no harm to anyone, but who was nevertheless hated, humiliated and crucified for proclaiming the Truth as He was sent to do by His Father. What can be good about such a day of wickedness and death! But taken within the context of atonement and seen in the light of the resurrection and the salvation he won for believers through His death, it is understandable that this Friday should be universally acclaimed “Good Friday” by Christians all over the world.
The celebration of Good Friday by Christians in Nigeria is to be appraised, however, within the nation’s unique experiences and constant pains. Nigerians live in a society with so much religious piety on display, yet the degree of individual or group fidelity to the higher values and virtues that authentic religion promotes, is a matter of contention.
Once again, whereas the Christian by his or her faith commitment to Jesus Christ, is meant to be in the world but not of the world with all its corrupt influences, Nigerian Christians find it hard to extricate themselves from the rot that is prevalent in the land. Whereas the Christian is supposed to be a light in the midst of darkness, and a sign of contradiction to a corrupt society, Nigerian Christians have often joined the bandwagon in a life of debauchery.The tendency of the Nigerian Christian to go through the motions of the rituals of worship without living out the injunctions on a daily basis is a major source of concern.
As once noted, rather than project the paradox of Good Friday, Christians in Nigeria readily collude with the forces of darkness, and join the crowd whose attitudinal tendencies often portray the country in bad light. Ours is a country that is so numbed by the paralysis of grand corruption, a notoriety that has assailed not only all arms of government but also various levels of society, including the corporate and even the religious. Leaders and public officers have become so brazen in the criminal engagement of treasury looting, that stealing in billions rather than millions of naira has become the new attraction.
Nigeria is under the yoke of leaders of different dispositions. Some are genuinely committed to the fight to pull the country out of rot, end the bleeding and destruction occasioned by acts of terrorism and social strife, and bail out a country bogged down by perpetrators of monumental corruption.At the same time, others are entrenched in self-serving political machinations, monumental ignorance of what leadership means, rabid looting of the treasury and oppression of the people and obscene display of ill-gotten wealth. No feeling for today, no thought for tomorrow, the result is a blessed nation living under the curse of irresponsible leadership at all levels.
No one is safe. No one is happy. Only a few days ago were precious daughters of the land, abducted from school in Dapchi, Yobe State, released from captivity by the Boko Haram terrorists! Meanwhile, many of their predecessors in that kind of ordeal, the Chibok girls, are still missing. And yet, in these embarrassing scenarios and as the society often celebrates rogue leaders, Christians and non-Christians alike are today presented with the graphic image of Jesus Christ, the true servant leader, who died on the cross that His people may have abundant life.
This newspaper’s earlier point bears repeating: As Nigerians join their counterparts worldwide to mark Good Friday, the occasion challenges everyone to engage in genuine soul-searching and recognizing today’s crisis in the society as an opportunity to begin the process of individual and national redemption. Beyond the ritual of re-enacting the crucifixion and other acts celebrating the passion of Christ on this day and around this time, Good Friday is significant as a day for the family of man, or for all who are committed to those values that give meaning to life, to know the meaning of service and the essence of sacrifice.
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