In Nigeria, love is a scarce commodity among us. Millions of Nigerians are without fellow-feeling, compassion, and empathy.
When it’s nearing the Christmas day, the harmattan breeze will come with its chilly coolness. In Nigeria, the trees by the roadsides will wear the coat of dust, the colour of which is ochre, the earth’s colour. Mango trees will start flowering, preparatory to bearing fruit(s). And our bodies will become dry, yearning for a touch of Vaseline cream; and our lips chapped. These are telltale signs that Christmas is around the corner.
It will soon be another Christmas, a holiday period for festivities. Christmas is a day we commemorate the birthday of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, who is our Messiah, Redeemer, and Saviour. Jesus Christ, one of the greatest religious figures to ever walk the earth, was born of very lowly parentage more than two millennia ago in today’s middle-east. His father, Joseph, was a carpenter while His mother was the Virgin Mary. The nativity story of Christ is that of an immaculate conception.
Jesus Christ was partly human and partly divine. He’s believed to be the only son of God, and the ransom for our sins in the entire Christendom. During his earthly ministry and sojourn, he performed astounding miracles like turning water into wine, stilling tempestuous waves, healing the sick, and raising the dead. His teachings, which were revolutionary, echoed throughout the middle-east and beyond, then. Little wonder, he was impaled on the cross, and crucified with thieves.
More so, Jesus Christ reconciled us to God through his divinely-inspired messages after humans had become estranged from God owing to the sins of our first parents, Adam and Eve. More than all his other teachings and messages, his message of love has become the doctrinal base of Christianity. It encapsulates all his messages to us. Jesus Christ said this: “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
If we love God, we’ll not murder other people, who are God’s creations; neither will we loot the national exchequer to enrich ourselves at the expense of the hapless and suffering masses. And if we possess the spiritual virtue of love, we will forgive those who wronged us, and will not keep a record of the wrongs we suffered in their hands, not to talk of our revenging on them.
But, now, in Nigeria, love is a scarce commodity among us. Millions of Nigerians are without fellow-feeling, compassion, and empathy. The so-called Christians in Nigeria are driven by base and vile impulses rather than love.
They’re acquisitive. And their rapacity is very nauseating. However, we should blame the rot and moral depravity existing among Christians in Nigeria on the ministers of God, who are steering their flock away from the path of spirituality, righteousness, and moral rectitude.
In the immediate past, men of cloth would centre their teachings and sermons on holiness, righteousness, and the reality of hellfire. They would sermonize on the consequences of our living sinful lives, which is eternal damnation in hell fire. Nowadays, priests, especially Pentecostal Pastors, preach about the indispensability of wealth in a man’s life. Prosperity message is at the core of their sermons and teachings. Consequently, the poor among us are made to believe that they are the accursed of the earth.
And they are fired to strive to acquire money at any cost. However, the Bible tells us that we would always have the poor among us.
And Jesus Christ for whom we celebrate the Christmas never despised the poor. More so, he’s an exemplification of love. But in the weeks leading to Christmas, some men will perpetrate criminal deeds in order to acquire money with which they will buy expensive clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry, and cars for the celebration of the Christmas festival. And some ladies will become scarlet ladies, desecrating their bodies for filthy lucre, which they will use to make purchases for the yuletide season.
So, the Christmas celebration has lost its spiritual values and essence. It has been commercialized. Now, it is the time for the ostentatious display of ill-gotten wealth by people. And not a few people will engage in illicit sexual concupiscence or liaisons during the period with the consequences of their getting unwanted pregnancies or becoming infected with the deadly HIV. And some people will die in automobile accidents during the period owing to their reckless drunken driving.
Why the celebration of Christmas, which calls for our sober reflection and spiritual reawakening, has morphed to a period of bacchanalia baffles me. Or is it true that it’s living up to the characteristics of the Greek Sun Festival of Solstice, the Greek Festival alleged to have been Christianized into Christmas?
However, it behooves us as Christians to mark Christ’s birthday or Christmas with sobriety. Christmas offers us the opportunity to renew our faith in God, reawaken our spirituality, and strive to live in accordance with Christ’s precepts and teachings. Our getting drunk and involving in sexual orgies during the period negate the teachings of Jesus Christ and the essence of Christmas.
But, more than anything else Christmas calls for our imbibing the priceless virtue of charity. Nobody can gainsay or controvert the fact that Nigerians are without the virtue of love.
As many Nigerians are destitute of love, they do kill other people for money-making rituals. And Politicians occupying top positions at different levels in our country’s government mindlessly loot our treasuries in their self-aggrandizement. Religious people spew hateful messages to hurt the religious sensibilities of people who belong to a religious faith other than their own.
We should know that we cannot achieve national unity and cohesion if we persist in our loveless deeds and attitudes.
As it is Christmas, it is morally incumbent on the well-heeled in our society to look the way of the children of the poor and buy them clothes, shoes, and other gifts for their celebration of Christmas.
Okoye writes from Uruowulu-Obosi, Anambra State