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Monday, March 20, 2023

Christmas and Christ: Experiencing God in our Daily Lives

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The story is told in the Holy Bible about how Jesus was born. Jesus was born as fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecy such as Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 and fulfilled and recorded in the gospels. This is usually celebrated as Christmas, which comes on the 25th and 26th December of every year. It is often manifested with both religious and secular traditions and practices, pomp and colour, new clothes, a holiday, eating, drinking and merry making. Briefly, Jesus Christ, who is the son of God came so that we may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).

Jesus Christ was born in a human form so that God could come and live among us and thus bring us closer to God and godliness. This is the very essence of Christmas, that is, God among us. God sent Jesus Christ to live among us and save us from sin. Thus, Christmas is the mark of experiencing God in our lives.

Let us therefore, celebrate Christmas this season by seeking out Christ’s purpose in our lives. At a time of great tribulations in the World especially with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), cancer, HIV and AIDS, wars, famine, floods and other catastrophic incidents, the message of Christmas is that there is love, hope, light and life and that God has a purpose in our lives. In that case, we need to ask ourselves the deeper meaning of Christmas. In my view, I would like to look at one of the most significant stories in the Bible, that of Nicodemus visiting Jesus at night.

Here comes Christmas

The story is told in the Bible in John 3: 1 – 21 of a man named Nicodemus who went to visit Jesus at night. Nicodemus was a learned teacher, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling Council (called the Sanhedrin). Pharisees were religious leaders and they were intensively jealous of Jesus because in several ways, He appeared to challenge their teachers and this was interpreted to imply that he was undermining their authority. Nonetheless, Nicodemus was searching on how to experience God’s kingdom and he was convinced that Jesus had an answer. At times we are searching for answers to our lives, it is imperative that like Nicodemus, we should earnestly seek Christ.

Let’s put this in our context. Well, in the first instance, since this is an article in The Counsel-ling Magazine, allows for help seeking and for confidentiality. Nicodemus needed some help, assistance or information. Why did Nicodemus visit Christ at night? There were several reasons. This is because though he gladly needed assistance from Jesus, he did not want to be seen with Him (and this was partly because he was a Pharisee and also because of his self-righteousness). In addition, he did not want to be seen as ‘weak’ by seeking help. The third reason, which is the purpose of this story during Christmas, is that still, Nicodemus needed Christ to guide him so that he could experience God’s kingdom at a personal level.

A major lesson for us this Christmas is that Nicodemus, though a great knowledgeable teacher, he needed Christ. Of essence, knowledge is not equal to knowing God. That is, we should have knowledge and it is indeed important; but, we must know God by developing a relationship with God. This is what Christmas is all about. In addition, we should know that God’s love is not situational or static and thus we should not confine it to a few days in December of every year and the celebrations of Christmas. Instead, the birth of Jesus sets a major precedence in which God sets the pattern of true love and redemption, for God Himself is love.

Seeking God in our Lives ….

At this juncture, I want us to get into Nicodemus’ shoes. What would you have done if you were the one who had visited Christ? Let us be even more practical – supposing you were to meet Christ, what would you ask of him? I tried this out with a few people. One of them, Dr. Wango disclosed that he would do three things. Firstly, he would gladly appreciate for seeing Christ face to face. Secondly, he would thank Christ for His saving grace. Thirdly, he would ask Christ to bless him and his family. Our magazine articles go through several people including editors, designers and others. One of them told us that he would ask Christ for a V8 car. Another said a job; a well-paying job. Another one said she desired to go to USA so she would ask for a visa. Another one said a house, a car and a helicopter. Yet another one said she would ask to be healed. Another one insisted that she would ask Christ to bless her son and family. I do not want to say that any of the above issues, things or aspects are insignificant.

In fact, the seeking of healing, for example, is optimally Godly since we all seek to enjoy good health. Equally, it is important to get into a career (higher education and all), house and all our lives aspiration. Family is also very essential and a good family in particular, and God’s provision for our needs. This reflects the importance we attach to Christmas. Even as we engage in all types of festivities during this season, including taking the opportunity to go on holiday, buy ourselves and our loved ones some gifts and other niceties, we still need to remember that Christmas is a reminder of the coming of Christ and that Christ is coming this way or our way.

Nicodemus helps us to reflect on ourselves this Christmas. No matter who we are (intelligent, beautiful or handsome, rich or poor, in illness and in perfect health, educated or not, we still need to come to Jesus with an open mind and heart so that we can learn God’s truth (He will teach you all the truth, John 14:6). Another issue is that Nicodemus went to Jesus personally and did not send any emissary. We must seek God for ourselves.

Making a visit to Christ

I must admit that I have meditated over this article again and again. What would I have asked Jesus on that night, or on this day? Well, I would have asked Jesus to add me more grace. And this Christmas I still seek more grace. Why? Because Christ represents God’s love and grace in our lives. Our lives are about God, His love, His care that fills us with hope, promises and a great future. We need to live more fulfilling lives by developing a relationship with God and opening your heart for Christ. Service to God is central as it glorifies God so that his glory may be manifested in our lives.

We need to always turn to God in prayer and meditation so that He may hear us and answer us in times of pleasure, contentment and happiness, as well as when facing various challenges, frustrations and disappointments. Let it be that it is to God that we first turn to this Christmas and in all aspects of our lives. Regardless of the circumstances we face in life, big or small, easy or problematic, crises or suffering, natural calamities, war, and other tribulations, we should turn to Christ. Having faith that His Grace is sufficient, gives us hope and light which will help us find fulfillment in our lives each day.

May God enable us all to experience Christ in our lives every day and not just simply by celebrating the joy of Christmas for only two days. Christ in our lives should be a lifestyle. Merry Christ-like moments now and always.

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