By Chiedu Uche Okoye
Man’s efforts to reach his god or understand the cosmos gave birth to religion. As a result, today, we have diverse religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, confusionism, African Traditional religion, Islam, Christianity and others. So what is religion? It can be described as a way by which human beings can reach their God or gods. It can be a way of life of a people since religions, as aspects of cultures, are embedded in the cultures of diverse of peoples of the world.
The teaching of love is common to every religion. The doctrinal bases of all religions are rooted in the teachings of love. No religion supports violence; yet religious conflicts have marred and marked our today’s world.From middle-east to North Africa, from America to France, some hot- headed Islamists , who are terrorists, do detonate bombs killing innocent people.
Those people with warped and depraved minds twist and distort the teachings of Prophet Mohammed to suit their religious and evil purposes. They have given Islam a bad name. So, now, many people wrongfully perceive it as a religion of violence. They kill people under the pretence that they’re defending Allah.
All over the world, religious nuts and evil-minded people have put religions to bad use. In Christendom, especially in Nigeria, some con men or tricksters masquerading as pastors are promoting the prosperity message above teachings centered on virtuous and righteous living. They would hire people who faked and affected that they received cures and headings during healing sessions in their churches. And they do exploit the naivety, vulnerabilities, and desperation of members of their churches to fleece them of their hand-earned money. So there is no gain-saying the fact that there is a link between the existence of moral bankruptcy and turpitude in Nigeria and our pastors’ shirking of their cardinal ecclesiastical duties.
Now that Christmas is around the corner, they have lined up activities for their members. But are we emulating the good examples of Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity? Jesus Christ symbolizes love. But does loves inhere in millions of Christian adherents, globally?
A man with love cannot misappropriate Billions of naira entrusted in his care by the government for road project. And it’s not the feelings of love that propelled some self-professed Christians to kill other people for money-making rituals. More so, fellow-feelings do not exist among us, anymore. Well-heeled Nigerians seldom lift a finger to help the poor among them.
The period of Christmas celebration offers us an opportunity to reflect on our bad ways and to turn a new leaf so that we can become true ambassadors of Christ on earth. But millions of Christians are thrown into a frenzy of preparation in the days leading to the celebration of Christmas. Some people would engage in sordid and unlawful deeds to get money, which they would use to buy expensive things for the Christmas celebration.
The period of Christmas celebration is now the auspicious time for the advertisement of our vanities and display of our ill-gotten wealth. Some people engage in drunken revelry and sexual concupiscence during the period. And in the past, not a few people had died while engaged in drunk- driving.
It seems to me that Christianity has inherited the negativities and bad attributes of the Greek festival of sun solstice, which was Christianized into Christianity. The commercialization of the Christmas celebration and the perpetration of evil deeds during the period negate the teachings of Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate on every December 25.
But as misdeeds mark the celebration of Christmas so do controversies surround Jesus Christ’s actual birthday. Among the Christian Sects, the Jehovah witnesses disbelieve and argue that our savior was not born on that date. They said that he was born on a date earlier than that date. The controversy about his date of birth has not diminished the significance and the importance of Christmas in Christendom.
Jesus Christ was born more than two thousand years ago in Bethlehem to lowly, Parents, Mary, a virgin and Joseph, a carpenter. His birth was an immaculate conception based on nativity story as recorded in the synoptic gospels of the Bible.
Divine attributes are ascribed to him. He’s believed to be partly human and partly divine. He walked the earth preaching the message of love, repentance, and forgiveness. His teachings jolted the rulers of Israel then, and made them feel uneasy and uncomfortable.
Today, some scholars have written books to prove that Jesus Christ was a human being who did not possess divine qualities while on earth. They alleged that he married Mary Magdelene as against the synoptic gospels’ accounts that he did not marry a wife. But no matter what is negatively written about him, Jesus Christ was a great religious personality and teacher, whose teachings revolutionized our world and thinking.
As we mark the birthday of Jesus Christ, let us desist from doing the things that negate Christ’s teachings. Jesus Christ is an exemplification of love. In our daily doings and activities, let us display love. Our world will be a better place if we have fellow-feeling.
Okoye writes from Obosi, Anambra State