“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16
Christmas is here again despite all covert and overt attempts to wish it away. The celebration in remembrance of the love of God in giving the Saviour to the world is so important, it cannot be wished away.
Though few human beings rejoiced at the birth of the baby Jesus, the Gospels tell about multitudes rejoicing in the heavens, about a bright star leading wise men to worship the new born king, and they also tell about the trouble his birth brought to those unwilling to have him as their Lord and King.
The incarnation is the divine condescension. The birth of Christ which we celebrate is the decisive divine intervention into human history. By it, history is measured and judged. Before the birth of Christ, all of history is categorized as era ‘Before Christ’ (B.C.) and since then, we have been in the era of ‘the year of Our Lord’ (anno domini, A.D.)
Today, multitudes of human beings join the angels to rejoice. Christians shining as light lead many to Christ and there still exists, great trouble among those who would not have Jesus. Efforts to turn Christmas into a mere holiday season continue unabated all around us. ‘Christmas Greetings’ are replaced with ‘Season Greetings’ as if it possible to have a Christmas without Christ. ‘B.C.’ and ‘A.D’ are changed to ‘B.C.E.’ (Before Common Era), and ‘C.E’ (Common Era) all in an attempt to conceal the fact that Jesus came to save an erring world from sin and eternal condemnation.
The cross of Christ which is the main reason we boast (Gal. 6:14) remains a stumbling block and a symbol of offense to those unwilling to receive God’s free gift of salvation. (Romans 9: 33) Under the guise of political correctness, symbols of Christianity in our daily lives and history are being challenged and subtly removed. All these subtle and calculated attempts of the non-believing world to mislead the unsuspecting believers and make them deny Christ should not deter us from celebrating for we are confident the efforts are bound to fail. As we celebrate Jesus’ birth this year, let us be mindful of the activities of the first celebrants; the joyous angels who while celebrating proclaimed the Good News to the shepherds.
We should also be bold to proclaim to an increasingly secularized world, the good news of the Saviour-born. We call on all Christians in positions of authority and indeed all ministers of the Gospel to vigorously resist attempts to remove Christ from Christmas and His centrality and importance in human history. We should be vigilant and avoid being misguided and misled by their seemingly innocent and socially acceptable philosophy. In being politically correct, we should not join in denying Christ his rightful place. Let all of us unashamedly proclaim the news of the greatest gift of all, the love behind the gift and peace the gift brings to all. Jesus the Christ is our Saviour, Lord, King and the best gift ever given by God to humanity. (John 3:16)
May God incarnate, give you true joy as you celebrate Him this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
The Most Revd. Peter J Akinola, CON,
Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of all Nigeria.