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Christmas: Clerics admonish on security, moderation

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Human Traffic: Shoppers, buyers throng Oshodi Market, Lagos… yesterday PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN

As Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate birth of the Lord Jesus on Tuesday, clerics have urged Christians to emulate the sterling qualities of the Saviour, one of which was showing love to fellow-men. In a chat with OMIKO AWA, they noted that love is at the foundation of the Message of hope Jesus brought to mankind, and it is only appropriate that His followers imbibe and practise genuine love, especially now that the world is in dire need of peace and goodwill.

‘Christmas Is A Period To Show Love To All’

• Rev Gabriel Agbo, Minister, Assemblies of God, Nigeria 

Christmas is a time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. The import of this to our Christian faith is that it is the bedrock of our faith. Jesus was not just another man, a preacher or another prophet.

He was God that manifested in flesh. He removed His glory as God, humbled Himself and became man, just to be able to save man from sin and its consequences. If you call His name, Satan and demons tremble and flee.
 
Christmas time is a period to show love to others, including those of other faiths and opinions. Love wins. Love is the strongest power.

Your love will show truly that you are of Christ. And when the world proves this, they will join you to serve your God.

Genuine love is what the world, Satan and cults do not have, and can never offer. But Jesus Christ manifested true, selfless, genuine love that even when we were yet sinners, wicked and condemned, He came and gave His life for us.
  
Don’t be wasteful, while celebrating. Do not try to impress anybody. You are not in competition with anybody. Don’t borrow to celebrate. And also remember that January is coming.

After Christmas, there will be other immediate responsibilities – rents, school fees, feeding, etc. Don’t over spend. Live within your means. There will always be days after Christmas.

‘Christmas Signifies Universal Applicability Of God’s Blessing To Mankind’

• Moji George, Christian Science Church Committee on Publication for Western Nigeria.

The spiritual import of Christmas should be of primary importance. Jesus’ virgin birth reveals God, Spirit, as the Parent of all.

Since we are God’s children, made in the image and likeness of Spirit, (Genesis 1:26), it follows that our true nature must be spiritual.

Christmas reminds us of the need to show goodwill to our fellowman, and not only at Christmas, or just to Christians, but every day of the year, and to those of differing faiths.

Thoughtful and practical care for those who may be sorrowing or sick should be the hallmark of any true follower of Christ Jesus.

In its true essence, Christmas signifies the universal applicability of God’s blessing, transcending creed, nationality, tribe and gender.

Gift giving is one of the hallmarks of the season. This reflects in some degree, God’s precious gift to mankind – the Christ, which saves the world from sin, sickness and all untoward human situations.

In Nigeria, there is usually a spike in gift shopping at Christmas, and therefore there is a lot more money in circulation.

But if we learn to place greater emphasis on circulating gratitude – gratitude for the unconditional love of God for man, gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and the salvation, which comes through Christ, this can help to ‘hold crime in check.’

We can all begin to understand God better as divine Love, which will help us obey the Golden Rule of loving others as ourselves.

Eschewing crime, abiding by laid down rules and regulations is what is expected of every child of God, whether clergy or laity, regardless of the season.

‘Do What The Shepherds Did, Take The Good News Of The Saviour To Others’

• His Eminence, Rev. (Dr.) Samson Olasupo A. Ayokunle, President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Nigerian Baptist Convention.

Christmas is very important because without the birth of Christ, there wouldn’t be the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.

Further, his birth was the physical display of God’s love to humans, to redeem humankind from repercussions of the fall in the Garden of Eden.

We need to celebrate God’s goodwill to man and peace with God that He brought to the world.

All who receive Him should commemorate His birth with grateful and joyful heart of thanksgiving. His birth was the beginning of God’s physical and spiritual intervention in man’s awful condition of a separated life from God. 

However, the celebration and mixing together with others is to do what the shepherds did— taking the good news of the Saviour to others, urging them to give Him an important place in their hearts by accepting Him as their Saviour.

The period is meant for Christians and their families to celebrate Him in a special way, because they belong to Him through faith. However, it is a time to let others know that the coming of Jesus to our world is goodwill to all people.

All should, therefore, give Him a place in their lives irrespective of their religions. Jesus is the true way of life. He is more than religion.

‘It’s The Greatest Season Of All Times’

• Bishop Taiwo Akinola, Presiding Bishop, Rhema Christian Church & Towers Int’l HQs, Ota, Nigeria.

Christmas is one of the greatest seasons of all times. Memories of Christmas always bring beautiful recollections of our childhood lives, of joy, new cloths, gifts and of service to others. And all these stem from the real reason for Christmas, that all-surpassing, Transcedental Gift from our Heavenly Father: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

We need to constantly re-examine, review and refresh ourselves with some age-long and very important facts of the Christmas story that have held several generations of men and women in their sway.

One of such durable facts is that Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour is the Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).

Christ is the “Prince of Peace” because He is the donor of all true solid peace and real prosperity, both external and internal.

Yes, there is no peace to the wicked, but Jesus came to give peace: to individuals, to families, in the nations, in the Church, and in our workplaces, everywhere. And, He did this by reconciling the world to God through His finished work of atonement.

It has been 2,018 years since the angels hovered over the Judean countryside, declaring their Good News of “peace, goodwill toward men.” But sadly, most of our world still knows very little of that peace.

Many people ask: are those words really true? Can God’s peace become a reality in our lives and in our world? Or was the promise of the angels just a hollow, empty hope, unrealistic for life, as it is today with most political promises really?

In summary, the peace Jesus Christ spoke about is granted only to men and women with whom God is well pleased. As such, understanding the ways to please the Lord will as well lead us to finding the ways of true peace and harmony with God.
 
The biggest miracle of Christmas is that we can personally be at peace with God! We can come into a relationship with Him and be born again spiritually by the grace of God.

Those who have become right with God can say with confidence that they “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
 
Meanwhile, you need to realise that storms may come. In fact, they are sometimes inevitable! However, if you have Jesus in the boat of your life, you can have peace in those storms. And as Christians on the journeys of life, be rest assured that Jesus is with you. Even though the problem may seem big, yet you will come out of it victoriously, in Jesus Name.

‘Christmas Should Be A Time To Reflect On How Much God Loves Us’
• Johnson. F. Odesola, Assistant General Overseer (Admin/Personnel) & Pastor-in-Charge Region 1,The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Redemption Camp, Nigeria.

December is a month to remember. It is a season of celebration as the year draws to an end, but most importantly, it is a time to celebrate the most popular season, Christmas.

It is a joyous celebration for everyone regardless of religion and background.

Typically, during this time of the year, families and friends come together to eat, drink, laugh, and eat.

Right from the edge of most streets around the world, you are almost guaranteed to see Christmas trees and colorful lights in most houses.

Nonetheless, it is important to remind ourselves of the true essence of Christmas and not get caught of up with just the eating and drinking aspect of it (although it can be quite tempting to do so!).

Christmas should be a time to reflect on how much our Father (God) loves us.

This remembrance will not only bring joy into our hearts, but will also bring hope, healing and renewed strength. Christmas is meant to be the time of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

It is an overt fact that this birth introduced a new season to the world.

It brought with it exceedingly great joy. Both beings on earth (Wise-men, Shepherds etc.) and in Heaven (Angels) all shared in this excitement.

The prophecies of the prophets of old were finally coming to pass! Even the stars in the sky knew there was a shifting in the atmosphere. A special Child had arrived.

More than just remembering that a special Child was born, it is important to remember why He was born. Why did God send Him to this evil world? For our salvation! Your salvation! My salvation! Deprived of this, we would all perish in our sins (John 3:16).

He came to save us so we can feel loved, true and pure love — love that never fails, a love that never deceives or fades away. This unending love should give us hope in everything we do.

Now, while reflecting on His love for us, we should all come together as one race to spread love to one another and exchange gifts (materialistic or non-materialistic, big or small). Whatever you do this season and after, ensure that it is done with love.

Lastly, as you spend time showing love to others during this season, remember to also reflect on year 2018 and prepare for the New Year!


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