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You looked forward to Christmas all year long. Now the celebration for this year is over.
It will be another 360 something days before you will have another chance to celebrate it again. That is if you are still alive.
Please don’t get me wrong there. I’m not suggesting that you would die before next year’s Christmas. But I’m not denying that the possibility exists for all of us.
Come to think of it, not everyone who celebrated Christmas last year’s Christmas was around to join in this year’s celebration. And as sure as the as the rising sun tomorrow, not everyone who celebrated this year’s Christmas will be alive to celebrate the coming year’s.
You know I’m not being a prophet of doom here. It is the sad reality of the life we found ourselves in: after all said and done, death is inevitable.
The Bible says, “There’s time for everything under the Sun.”
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… Ecclesiastes 3:1-11.
Let’s take further exploration of the first part of the above quote:
A time to be born, a time to die
Jesus had the time He was born to this earth. He had the time He had to die as well. Gratefully He had the time to resurrect as well.
If you are reading this now, I know you had the time you were born; you had a beginning. Or don’t you have a birthday?
And if you had a beginning on this earth, you are also going to have an ending. It is called death – the way of all mankind.
Unlike when you were born when everyone jubilated, when you die, people will cry. I mean if you are not Adolf Hitler or anyone else in his mould, I don’t see why anyone should be glad when you die.
But whether anyone is sad or happy when you die, it would not really matter to you. What would matter would be how you have used your short life on earth to prepare for the eternity that death would be the doorway to.
If you have prepared well for eternity, death will be a gain to you. But if you have not, death will be a great loss to you. Regrettably, it will be too late by then to make amends.
But how can you prepare well for eternity?
To be honest, the answer is simpler than you think. It requires simple faith in Jesus Christ, the birth of whom we just celebrated and will continue to celebrate in the years ahead.
Think back a little to the Christmas story: a virgin gave birth to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world. (See Matthew 1:20-21).
You see, that’s why we celebrate Christmas every year: a Saviour was born to save us from our sins. In this Saviour lies the hope of all humanity. But it is sad that many are not seeing it that way.
Now that Christmas is over, the question I would like to ask you is this: do you have a personal relationship by faith with the Celebrant? By that I mean, have you accepted Jesus to be your Lord and Saviour?
If your answer is yes, I will advise you to nurture that relationship so closely that nothing will come between you and Him. You have His assurance that nothing can separate you from His love till you will get to meet Him face to face on the other side of this life.
On the other hand, if you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Saviour, you have between now and the next Christmas to do so. Actually, no one can guarantee that you will be alive till the next Christmas. So that means NOW is the best chance you have to invite Jesus into your life.
Please wait no further, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” 2 Corrinthians 6:2.
What do you say?
In many places around the world, people celebrate Christmas for various reasons. And the celebration is usually done with a lot of fanfare.
But beyond the fanfare with which it is celebrated, we must not lose sight of the fact that the essence of Christmas is Jesus Christ Himself. Without Jesus as the centre of focus, every celebration of Christmas is an empty celebration.
That brings us to the question:
Beyond the fanfare, what is Christmas about?
1. It is about the birth of a Saviour
Jesus was born to be the Saviour of the world. He was born with the grandest mission ever: To save us from our sins.
Before Jesus Christ was born to the earth, an Angel had said to Joseph about Mary, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” Matthew 1:21.
His name Jesus literally means Saviour. In other words, his name encapsulates His mission.
He was born the Messiah, “the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible.”
But not just to His people alone, His saving grace extends to all mankind. “So that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life (John 3:15).
2. It is about the coming of divinity to earth.
One of the core doctrines in Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. When Jesus was born, He brought divinity to humanity.
Jesus is also called Immauel, meaning God with us. The second person of the Trinity stepped into time and be born on earth as a baby.
The incarnation is that event where the second person of the Trinity, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us – Matt Slick
And throughout His life on Earth, Jesus never suffered any identity crisis: He knew who He is: God in the flesh.
At one point in Jesus’ ministry, Philip, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus’ response to him was most unequivocal: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:8-9.
3. It is the birth of the soon-coming King
The birth of Jesus was His first coming to earth. His second coming is still a future event, but it is going to be a sure event.
His first birth by a virgin was foretold and it did happened as prophesied. There is no doubt in my mind that His second-coming which has also been prophesied, will sooner or later take place.
Why not under-estimating Christmas we should not lose sight of the fact that Jesus will come back again – not as a baby, but as a King.
At the ascension of Jesus, His disciples received an angelic assurance that the same way they saw their Master taken up in the clouds into Heaven is the same way He would come back to the earth.
“Men of Galilee,” said the two Angels who accosted the disciples, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” Acts 1: 11.
4. It is the birth of the One who will judge the world
Guess who will be the Judge of the world? Jesus! That’s right, Jesus will be the one to judge the people of the world.
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son” – John 5:22.
Here is how the Bible further paints the picture of the judgement:
When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels are with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. The people of every nation will be gathered in front of him. He will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right but the goats on his left – Matthew 25:31-33.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad – 2 Corrinthians 5:10.
When we celebrate Christmas, we should remember that we are not just celebrating the birth of an ordinary baby. We are celebrating the birth of our Saviour, God in the flesh, the soon-coming King and the future Judge of the world.
What do you say?
Updated: 3rd Dec. 2020.
He is God
But consented to become a man
Delivered of a virgin lady
So He could be the Saviour.
Taking on the nature of Man
He became flesh and blood.
But as He is the seed of the Holy Spirit
He wouldn’t inherit the sin-nature of man.
His birth was not a happenstance
But a fulfillment of divine prophecy
Part of Heaven’s grand design
To redeem mankind from depravity.
In a time like this, yearly
We celebrate the greatest birth ever
The Son of God, and the Son of man
Born to be the Saviour of the world.
Immanuel – God with us
Jesus – Saviour, King, Judge
The everlasting Father.
©Copyright 2018|Victor Uyanwanne
Christmas is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the baby that changed the world. As we celebrate, we should not lose sight of the real essence of it, chief of which was to restore the broken relationship between God and mankind.
Remember that at the birth of Jesus, some angels proclaimed to the shepherds saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” Luke 2:14. Because of Christmas, peace was proclaimed to those who would come into a relationship with God.
So let us celebrate Christmas with a heart of peace towards God and an attitude of peace towards fellowmen. Towards that end, here are my simple suggestions on the
Three Kinds of people you should make peace with this Christmas:
1. Make peace with God
When God sent Jesus Christ to be born on earth and also gave Him up to die for the ultimate redemption of mankind, He made peace with the world. You can say the war between God and the world is now over.
On a personal level, God has made peace with you by the atonement of Jesus Christ for your sins. He is no longer at war with you over your sinful nature.
But the question now is, “Are you at peace with God?” Being at peace with God means that you have spiritual peace. It means that you have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.
If that is not your story yet, let this Christmas season be that opportunity you have been waiting for to be connected back to God. Without having spiritual peace, or simply put, without being reconciled to God, peace in other areas of your life may continue to elude you. Therefore, “Yield now and be at peace with Him; Thereby good will come to you” Job 22:1.
2. Make peace with yourself
Once you have made peace with God, the next natural experience you should have is peace within yourself. Being at peace with yourself means that you have emotional peace – inner peace.
The main reason you are not at peace with yourself is because you are not at peace with God. But if you have made peace with God, it is high time you allowed the peace of God to rule your heart.
Be at peace with yourself because God is at peace with you now. Forgive yourself of your shortcomings because God has already forgiven you.
3. Make peace with other people
If you make peace with God and you are at peace with yourself, there is no reason you should not seek to be at peace with other people around you. Seize this special season to forgive the people who might have offended you.
I know you cannot force other people to be at peace with you. But you can at least ensure that you are at peace with other people, within your own capacity.
Free yourself! Free your mind of grudges towards people around you!
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18. That’s the extent of your responsibility.
“As far as it depends on you…” – that’s the pivotal phrase – live at peace with people this Christmas and beyond.
Above that, you can trust in the promise of God for relational peace which assures us that “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” Proverbs 16:7.
© Copyright 2018| Victor Uyanwanne
Christmas is celebrated in most parts of the world every year in commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour.
Yes, Jesus was born to save the world from sin. By all means, this ought to be the reason for the season of Christmas. But it is hardly so in some places.
Many people celebrate Christmas without having acknowledged Christ as their Saviour. To them Christmas is just a holiday. They eat. They drink. They party. They buy and sell.
They do everything else but they do not care about having a personal relationship with the Person they are celebrating His birthday.
On the other hand, some people have argued that:
- The celebration of Christmas has a heathen origin;
- It was not commanded by Jesus to be celebrated;
- It has been fully commercialised;
- Materialism takes a better hold of people during Christmas…
The above observations may be correct. But do you know that even if all Christians stopped celebrating Christmas today, Heaven will not fall?
Please don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas, I have been celebrating it since I was a child and I will continue to celebrate it for the rest of my life.
But I’m just saying that as significant as the celebration of Christmas is in Christianity, it doesn’t mean that our true essence as Christians would be lost if we stopped celebrating it.
What if Christians stopped celebrating Christmas?
- It will not change the fact that a Saviour, Jesus was born at a point in time in history;
- Celebration of Christmas is not a criteria to enter the kingdom of God;
- We can still spread the gospel of the kingdom without Christmas;
- Not celebrating it will not reduce the power of the gospel to save;
- Sinners will still be won to Christ;
- We will not be offending God by not celebrating.
I could go on and on with the list but I believe you’ve got my point already. So what do you think would happen if as Christians we should stop celebrating Christians?
Every year at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Some people say we are not sure of His date of birth. “Definitely not 25 December” they say.
It is true we can’t be sure about the date. But there is something we can be sure about: A Saviour was born at a point in time in history.
This is no fiction. No fabrication. No figment of man’s imagination as some people suggest. It was a recorded historical event orchestrated by the finger of God.
Jesus was born. And He was born with a purpose. His purpose was announced before He was born. An angel of God had announced to Joseph,
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21
That is it! The purpose of Christ’s birth was to save us from our sins. That’s the reason we celebrate His Birth. That is the reason for Christmas!
That tells me that if your sins have not been forgiven – or better still, if you have not received the forgiveness of your sins – by giving your life to Jesus Christ, the purpose of Christmas has not been fulfilled in your life.
As the saying goes, “If the purpose of something is not known, abuse is inevitable.” That seems to be the case with Christmas; many people are celebrating without knowing the essence of it. As a result, they end up abusing it.
I used to be like that. For many years, I looked forward to Christmas for some other reasons other than the birth of a Saviour. But once I got born again, I began to understand the real essence of Christmas.
The real essence of Christmas is not the beautiful carol we hear or sing, not the ambience, the special shoppings, the fanfare, the feasting, and all other kinds of activities we enjoy during the season. The real essence of Christmas is found in the original purpose: Jesus was born to save the world.
Christmas is a celebration of love. The love of God to the world in sending a Saviour to die for us. That popular Bible verse says,
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
So as you celebrate, do not forget the real purpose of Christmas.
©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne
Going back to my roots!
I have lived most of my life here in Lagos, Nigeria. But I was born in Owerre Olubor, a peaceful town in the present-day Ika N. E. Local Government of Delta State.
There were many wonderful memories I had growing up in that predominantly agrarian village where a sizeable portion of the population, with a few exceptions, professed to be Christians.
One of such memories is that of various celebrations which took place in the community on an annual basis. Apart from the universal Easter, Christmas, and New Year celebrations, there were other big festivals that were equally engaged in.
The New Yam Festival, Iwaji, is celebrated in the third quarter of the year to mark the beginning of farm harvests and then followed closely with a festival of dance and music, known as Ogbanigbe. Both festivals which attracted visitors from far and near were ‘traditional’ in nature and were celebrated by almost everyone in that serene community.
However, many ‘serious’ Christians in the land, especially those from the Pentecostal circle, did not join in the Ogbanigbe celebration for fear of being ‘contaminated’. Their sentiment for not participating in the festivals was that such ceremonies were rooted in idolatry and ancestral worship, giving glory to demons and not to the true God.
And they were right – because of some reasons outside the scope of this post.
In those early days, my siblings and I saw ourselves as Christians – having been following our mum to church. But our personal convictions were not very deep. So we were passive participants in the festivals until we became fully detached from their celebrations.
Personally, I can still recall previously having some pleasures in the festivals during my pre-teen years, especially as far as the family feasting aspect of the celebrations was concerned. This was due mainly to the influence of my father in the home, making provisions for special meals to be prepared during those festivals.
Unlike my mother, my father – although a very morally upright man – wasn’t a Christian and so he had a longstanding belief in those festivals. But he never forced any member of the family to participate in them.
By virtue of his status as a respected ‘elder’ in the village at the time, he was given special recognition which required that the festival’s dance parties visited our house to pay the traditional ceremonial homage to him during their main street ogbanigbe carnivals.
The beginning of Change
As time went on, I gave up whatever pleasures I might have had in those festivals. This happened after I became born-again in my early teens and began to be taught the living word of God which empowered me spiritually and also enabled me to make decisions that were in line with my newfound love and passion for the only true God, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While it is true that becoming born-again helped in realigning my values and focus with respect to the annual festivities of those years, it was not an overnight change. I gradually refrained from having anything whatsoever to do with the ceremonies. The rest is history!
Cerebration by all
Christmas, though popularly known as a Christian festival, was celebrated by everyone around me, irrespective of religious background. But in those days the real essence of it was lost on me and, I believe, to the majority of the celebrants as well.
Growing up then, it didn’t matter if one was a Christian or not, Christmas was a feast for all to celebrate; everyone around, whether they went to church or not, or were involved in the so-called traditional worship, all of us participated in Christmas celebrations.
The only exception I can remember was a girl two years my senior in secondary school, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. She never joined in the celebration of ‘anything’ at all – including Christmas. She even refused to join in reciting the national anthem and other songs we sang in School on the assembly ground every morning.
Before the essence of Christmas hit me
Christmas is the commemoration of the birth of Jesus. But while we all celebrated it, most often than not, not all of us remembered or even cared about the real purpose of it.
We all focused on the fanfare rather than on why Jesus was born in the first place. Sadly that mistake is still observable in many places around the world today.
In my pre-teen years, Christmas time for me meant that we were approaching the time for the longest school holiday in the academic year. That meant I would have more time to play street football with my friends from school and around the neighbourhoods.
Christmas also meant that I was going to get a new set of clothes, a new pair of shoes, a wristwatch and a pair of sunglasses to match. It was particularly fun wearing those pair of eyeglasses. Once you had them on, the grounds appeared to be shifting and un-leveled. Still, we managed to move around in them and then returned home to mama, safely.
At Christmas, relations who lived in cities would return home for family reunions, a once-in-year ritual. We also visited relations and family friends around town, especially on boxing days. We would be lavishly served with rice and chicken and in some cases soft drinks.
And once we stood up to go back home, we would be given some money which the giver would often say, “This is for all of you.” That announcement was necessary to avoid a situation where the direct recipient would think the money was meant for only him or her.
Reports were rampant then of children or teenagers fighting over such money… But fortunately for me, my ‘visitation’ groups were always cooperative, so at the end of the day, we always amicably shared all the accumulated money from such visits.
You can say Christmas was another way of getting money from people you knew, as it appeared everyone was more generous during that time.
Rice and stew very plenty
Back at home from the Christmas day service in the church, there would be plenty of food to eat. Some people would prefer specially made local delicacies on this day. But the children (including yours truly) would relish the specially made Christmas rice and stew.
Our parents made sure they ‘killed’ chicken to serve it along. If anybody’s mum failed to prepare rice and chicken in special stew, especially on the boxing day, he or she would have the feeling that the Christmas for that year was not fantastic.
So basically, our Christmas then like in many other places was full of eating and drinking (mostly soft drinks, no alcohol) visiting families in new outfits, and other forms of celebrations. Not many people remembered or even knew the real essence of Christmas.
Understanding the real essence of Christmas
After I got born-again, I began to understand the true meaning of Christmas. A Saviour was born to save the world. The slogan Christ is the reason for the season became a living reality.
I still wore new clothes at Christmas. I still ate specially prepared meals. But those were no longer my main focus: Christ was and still is.
We became challenged to share the love of God in more active ways – reaching out to people with the true meaning of Christmas.
Yes, we went out for evangelism, sharing the love of Christ in any way we deemed fit. What better way to celebrate Christmas than to tell people the Saviour was born to save them from their sins?
As we celebrate ‘Christmas’, let us remember the ‘Christ’ in it!
What’s your own childhood Christmas story?
©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne
The heart of Christmas is love.