‘Christmas Marks A Major Milestone In Human History’
The National President of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and General Superintendent of the Gospel Light International Ministries (a.ka) New Covenant Gospel Church (NCGC), Rev (Dr) Felix Omobude spoke with AYOYINKA JEGEDE at the international headquarters of the church in Benin on the significance of Christmas, lesson to learn at Christmas and erroneous beliefs about Christmas
What is the significance of Christmas?
The significance is that God loves the world so much that he gave His only begotten son to come reconcile the world to Himself. If Jesus Christ was not born then our sins would still have remained. The message of the angel to humanity was peace and goodwill, and that is significant in a chaotic world .Christmas reenacts God’s desire, will, peace and goodwill to all mankind.
Christmas marks a major milestone in human history. From the fall of Adam till the time that Jesus came, humanity has gone through a lot of turbulence, chaotic situations and rebellion against God. The birth of Christ brought new hope, peace and reconciliation to mankind.
Christmas is important v because it is the bedrock of Christianity .If Jesus Christ was not born he would not have died .Christmas is God’s olive branch to man after man had fallen. Christmas is heaven reaching out to man and this is very important.
With the crash of the economy, do we have any reason to celebrate Christmas?
Celebration really has little or nothing to do with economic situation. Knowing God and been reconciled with him is more than Naira, dollar or pound sterling. When God revealed the birth of Christ to common people, shepherds who were in the bush he did not revealed the message to the palace, he went to the common man and they knew the significance and they left whatever they were doing to come and seek for the child, wise men still seek for Christ, celebration at this time must be sober. Then man must individually make peace with God by repentance from sin, which is why this season although it has been misconstrue for long time people think once it is Christmas, it is about wearing new cloths, drinking beer, partying and that is all they know about Christmas but that is not the idea, it is living right, man reconciling himself with God. It is time that calls for sober reflection in our relationship both with God and with man.
People believe Christmas is all about partying and wearing new cloths, what is you view on this?
We cannot sweep away all of those because rejoicing has always been associated with the birth of a new baby whether in the village or not when a child is born there is always a form of rejoicing not to talk of King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We are not saying they shouldn’t eat or celebrate, what we are saying is that it goes beyond that. If a man does not have rice to eat nor have new cloth to wear but is at peace with himself, peace with God and peace with his neighbors, it is celebration itself. If you have just a cup of water give thanks to God for it and rejoice. If you have the money to kill cows and send gift to others great but if you don’t have, you don’t have to do anything criminal or unnecessarily outstretch yourself because you want to celebrate Christmas.
Some members of PFN do not believe in Christmas, what is your view on this?
I’m yet to really find members of PFN who do not believe in Christmas, I’m not aware of any. I’m aware some religious groups don’t believe in Christmas and they have right to their opinion, some questioned that it was not December 25,some say it was October, we don’t argue with them ,the central fact is not the date or the time. The fact that Jesus Christ was born and the world has chosen a day to acknowledge it that is what we celebrate. Every believer knows on daily basis that Jesus Christ the son of God came into the world and died for us, we know that one. The world set aside a day to celebrate it, why can’t we take advantage of it?
Message to learn at Christmas?
There are so many lessons to learn. When men failed God one would have thought that man has lost it completely forever but we serve a loving God, he still had man in mind. He went all out for man in other words if two people have quarrel we should not allow it to last forever that is one of the lessons of Christmas. If God can bye pass our errors and accept us back us back, we should in a nation like Nigeria with diverse ethnic groups, diverse religious beliefs, it is in an atmosphere of peace that we can progress, in an atmosphere of tension, chaos, and suspicion there cannot be development .Christmas has taught us to work for peace and extend goodwill to others because our God believes in peace.
Christmas is also a challenge to human pride that the son of God was born in a manger where sheep and goats are kept. That the highest came from the lowest is a challenge to our human ego. We must be humble. Jesus said offenses will come if two people are living together, the propensity for offenses is there, when offenses arise what do we do? We must learn to forgive those who have offended us and move forward then the world will become a better place. From between husband and wife, between parents, between two friends, between church members and pastors, between government and the governed, there is need for us to forgive, relate properly and worked for what make for peace.
Can we really have peace in this country if not Boko Haram it will be corruption or crash in oil revenue?
Peace is not the absence of trouble. Peace is a knowing and inner assurance that when there is a way into any trouble, there is also a way out. Peace is patience and long suffering. Peace is giving God the chance to act. Yes, Nigeria has a lot of challenges, yet we can have peace. People will always be people but we can have peace. There may be skirmishes here and there, we can live in peace, have peace with God and peace with man. We must learn to take our religiosity out of the four walls of the church or mosque and apply it to our daily living. I as a Christian must follow practically what the bible says. The bible abhors corruption, adultery; the bible abhors vindictive actions against your enemies. The bible speaks about love and good neighborliness. Those are challenges and so many other that I would want to build my life on. If I work towards that and we all do the same of course we will have peace.
Are there enormous beliefs about Christians?
It is strange that people use Christmas as a time to perpetuate all kinds of evils, go into crimes because they want to celebrate Christmas. It is an error. Why must it be Christmas many young ladies will lose their virginity? Why must it be Christmas many people join gang? There are so many things. Why must it be Christmas that people go waylay others just to find money to go and drink, it is erroneous?
Advise at Christmas?
We must not forget the essential message of peace and goodwill towards men. We must build for things that make for peace. People may not necessarily see things from your point of view; we must be accommodating and give room for other to express themselves. We must realize that our right seizes where the rights of others begin. I have always said it if God wanted every person in this country to be Christian, it was not impossible for him to make, if he want us to be Muslims he is God and he has what it takes but since he doesn’t do that and allow us to be we should respect his opinion and live at peace with one another I yearn for a Nigeria where a Benin man can go to Sokoto or Maiduguri practice his faith, owns properties and participate in political process; where somebody from Sokoto can come to Benin and peacefully practice his faith without let or molestation. A Nigeria where people can be free to serve their God and live peacefully wherever they choose to live in.
Advise to government and the influential?
The message of Christmas includes sharing. God’s love is never hoarded you share it. Nigerians must learn that whatever you hold or you hide for yourself you will eventually live it one day. As season of joy we must extend our generosity especially to the less privileged in our midst.
Since Christmas is about sacrifice and peace what is your advice to corrupt leaders?
Generally people must change their mind from what is wrong to what is right. Corruption has done this nation a lot of harm and it is all over the place. On the highway, at the airport, seaport, you don’t need to go. As it has been generally perceived the present administration is pursuing corruption, I pray for our president that God will help him in Jesus name. I would ask that all Nigerians with good conscience should join in the effort to clean up the system.
What is God saying about 2016?
Jesus Christ is the same. The Jesus of 2015 has already gone ahead of us in 2016. People prophesied doom, people see destruction, crash in oil revenue they may be right but those who trust in the Lord the bible says that they shall be like Mount Zion that abides forever. As the mountain surrounds Jerusalem so the Lord surrounds them that serve him. I will call on Nigerian to get close to God and serve God honestly. God put the oil on the ground there are many things that we have not discovered. Our lives are not hanging on oil. People should do what is right. You are a journalist do your journalism professionally and do what is right. I am a pastor, I should pastor the way I should and do what is right. Those who are in politics should serve God and serve the good people of Nigeria who put them there then we would have a better country
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