The True Meaning Of Christmas

the true meaning of christmas

ON THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS…

“And when the Lord Jesus has become your peace, remember, there is another thing: good will towards men. Do not try to keep Christmas without good will towards men.” -Charles Spurgeon

My friend Okozie is a spare part vendor at Ladipo Market in Lagos. Preparation for last year’s Christmas started quite early for him; 5 months before 25 December to be precise. He’d leave home as early as 5am, return as late as 10pm, sometimes later. At the market, his desperation to make money would be so obvious from the way he’d “harass” every passerby in sight, especially those he felt were prospective customers. His mission; he wanted to make as much money as possible to enable him have “a Christmas to remember”. He wanted to go home with a sleek car and all manner of goodies that would ensure villagers knew he had “arrived”.

He blended in perfectly with the insanity in which almost everyone runs around these days in preparation for the annual holiday, and for him it paid off.

Then it was Christmas day. Okozie had arrived a day before with pomp and pageantry and so much noise. Soon after his arrival, he and his men and taken over his village and boozed till the early hours of Christmas day. In fact, an incident which occurred following their excess consumption of liquor on Christmas Eve, leading to the injury of one of them, involved the police. By the time he came out of all of that and fell asleep from hangover, it was 7pm the following day. By the time he came to, Christmas was over and he woke to multiple challenges waiting to be solved.

Inasmuch as I am not trying to sniff at merriment this season, this story is just a typical example of how most of us understand Christmas today, something that has nothing to do with the sacred story surrounding the essence of Jesus’ birth and the purpose of his life.

The annual Christmas rush we see today wears out many and conveniently takes peoples mind from the purpose of Jesus’s coming and what is expected of man to his fellow man.

I believe this is hypocritical on the part of both Christians and non-Christians alike.  If non-Christians don’t believe in the birth of Christ, then why do they go to the trouble to recognize the holiday? And if Christians truly wish to honour the birth of the Saviour, then why engage in the madness and licentiousness which accompanies the holiday these days rather than focus more on its meaning?

In almost every street today in this country, churches with strange names engraved on different shaped and sized signboards pock their heads from street corners to invite faithful. Yet, despite this upsurge in religious activities, in our everyday actions as a people, we have never ceased to deny the very significance of Jesus Christ in history how much less grasp the full essence of his birth. Daily we make a mockery of the very core of Jesus’ birth and purpose which is LOVE (the supreme form of living energy) for God, for neighbours, goodwill towards men and life as sacrifice.

Christians must take note that apart from a quarrel with the December 25 date, most of the people who have problems with the celebration of Christmas do so because of the level of debauchery they see during the feast.

For example, a prominent anti-tithing OAP sometimes last year or so, insisted that “Christmas is Nimrod’s birthday, keep Christ out of it”. Although I have made the point in previous articles that there is virtually no Christian today who doesn’t agree with the idea that Jesus was not necessarily born in December and that, that should not detract from the essence and purpose of Christmas, but it is the actions of most Christians themselves that inspire some of such arguments.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses for example claim that since Jesus didn’t command us to mark his birthday and his apostles didn’t celebrate it, we shouldn’t. Even though that would be tantamount to saying we know exactly everything the apostles or even Jesus said or did when they were here, who would see the way we mark his birth today and wouldn’t pause for a moment and say, “wait a minute, will Jesus really approve of all these?”.

People today generally miss the underlying value of Christmas, which is the amazing sense of giving and sharing. God is a giving God, and Christmas reminds us that we are supposed to be like Him. This is why I for one, though aware of all the objections, still choose to celebrate it.

Those who look at the materialism that accompany the celebration and thus reject it on the basis of that are in other words telling us it is right to reject Christmas because we are all imperfect.

I have made this point before and I will make it again, liturgically speaking, Christmas is a season, not a day, and it important for us to bear that in mind. December 25 may not be the actually birthday of Jesus and may be pagan yes, but the season itself, its meaning and essence, and the figure we celebrate are not.

For those hammering on its pagan origin, well, we now have a new ‘paganism’ layered on top Christian holidays (holy-days). For example, most language have their roots somewhere. Most days of the week if not all, months of the years, etc. grew out of what many would insist are pagan names too. Until groups like Jehovah’s witnesses stop using the word or worshiping on “Sun-day” because it was related to the worship of the sun god once upon a time, I won’t take them serious on Christmas.

Which modern speaker of the English language today thinks of “Sun-day” as carrying a connotation of sun worship? Yet that’s the very nature of language and almost everything we believe today which we don’t even care about their origins.

Christmas now means what we make it in the Christian way and Jesus’s birth, message, death and resurrection are the most important events in human history according to Christians. Not to mark these events in some way, by way of special celebration, would be foolish.

I have also heard some people say since all days are special why should we set one day apart? Well, if all days are special then no day is special, so why then do they have a problem with those who choose 25 December? I think the American Reformed Baptist pastor John Piper summed it perfectly when he wrote that “It’s really worth the risk, even if the date of December 25 was chosen because of its proximity to some kind of pagan festival. Let’s just take it, sanctify it, and make the most of it, because Christ is worthy of being celebrated in his birth”.

The essence of Christmas is share, in God’s LOVE and exhibit goodwill towards men, as demonstrated by God Himself. There is an episode which the gospel of Mark calls ‘The Loaves’ which I believe somehow explains in a way what the spirit of Christmas call us all to do.

This story can also be found in the Bible books of Matthew 14: 13-21 and John 6: 26. Some commentators have explained that the crowd was fed because they learnt from Jesus how to share. But others insist that the clue to the meaning of this incident is in the original story as it is recorded in the bible. ‘Make the people sit down’. This was what Jesus was reported to have ordered before he blessed and broke the bread. A truer translation of the very words spoken by Jesus on that day would be ‘Make the men sit down’. Sit down O men and pause for a moment. God has entered into his own creation, suspend everything you think you know and reflect on the meaning of that.

“Make the men sit down!” Jesus said.  Make the Essenes, the Pharisees, Judas Iscariot with his dagger sit down. Make Simeon the Zealot, with his patriotic band of terrorist guerillas sit down. Sit down! O men of Israel. I believe this is the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus gathered together a huge crowd of people in a desert spot, and made them sit down together. He made them break bread together and eat a simple meal and admonished them to LOVE one another, follow God’s example and show goodwill towards one another.

Sink your difference differences, ignore the smaller picture (of the merriment, the licentiousness, the gifts, the noise and all that, of Christmas) and focus on the big picture (of God’s love, sacrifice and goodwill towards men) and as you go about this season, let that guide your actions going forward.

If only every Nigerian, Christians and non-Christians alike heed this call. Major General Buhari and his APC would obey court order, he would do what is really right for Nigeria. He would shun nepotism. If we heed this call, we would “love your neighbour as yourself”, the touts sent to beat up Nigerian activist Deji Adeyanju yesterday morning would not take the offer. Boko Haram would pause their satanic quest for innocent blood and “sit down”. Our National Assembly would sit down, pause, think, and show good will towards fellow Nigerians rather than choose to spend 37 billion of our budget on the renovation of a complex that was built with 7 billion naira. Our politicians with their ruinous and destructive kleptomaniac tendencies and thievery would sit down. They would sit down and restructure Nigeria into a true federation that it should be. Enough of lip service and hypocrisy. Sit down O people of Nigeria! Show goodwill towards yourselves.

This is the true meaning of Christmas. Yet, average to the Nigerian Christian today, the reality is prayers to God for Him to kill our enemies. As if that is not enough, a very destructive hate culture and materialism has now invaded the very fabrics of our souls, to the extent it has subjugated the very essence of Christmas in particular and religion in general and pitched us against ourselves. Politics has failed, the family unit is crumbling, economics has miscarried, our one-time-culture of love and community is eroded, relationships are disappointing, and in fact everything is deteriorating around us in this country. Charlatans in sync with politicians now easily disguise today as religious leaders and then with base intent at heart, together they wreck all forms of barbarity and madness on us and Major General Buhari not helping matter.

Who will save us now?

All the same, may the spirit of Christmas fill your heart with hope and happiness and may the sacrifice of Jesus Christ abide with us all this season and beyond, amen.

Merry Christmas…

About the author: Albert Afeso Akanbi is a writer, documentary filmmaker and humanitarian. He writes from Abuja, FCT, Nigeria.

He can be reached on Twitter: @RealAfesoAkanbi IG: @RealAfesoAkanbi and Blog: akanbiafeso.wordpress.com

10 thoughts on “The True Meaning Of Christmas

  1. WRITER, YOU JUST MADE my own point. I said it years ago that those people who maintain that 25th December belongs to a pagan something should first of all derive their own names for each day of the week.

    Sunday is for the sun god
    Monday, for the moon god.
    Tuesday, Wednesday, I do not know.
    Thursday is for the god of thunder.
    Friday, Saturday, not sure.

    WHY HAVE some groups failed to see that God is Supreme, Head over all, and beside Him there exists NO OTHER god? I shall repeat what I once commented here: In Rom. 14, from verse 1, St. Paul addresses this very confusion about whether or not anybody could or should celebrate. Mature Christians rather talk about the point of the celebration that we have missed, and not whether or not it is right to celebrate; not whether the date is 25th December or not. Everyday belongs God.

    DON’T TELL me not to celebrate! But tell me to celebrate without missing the soul of Christmas, which the writer has rightly said is giving. Beyond sharing and giving, however, we should soberly reflect upon the Person of Jesus as pertaining the ministry that caused Him to be born in the first place; to leave His glorious throne where He is worshipped, to dwell among men who knew Him not. It was to save mankind. Without His birth, there is no dying. And without His death, mankind would have had no hope!

    ANYBODY WHO OBSERVES Christmas this way should not be discouraged just because of a fleeting and relative twenty-four-hour thing called date!

    WELDON, WRITER!

    • Roman god called mithra was born on December 25th. Google his image. It is absolutely pagan worship in Rome thay is now incorporated into their believe in Jesus. The reason most of you are fooled today is because xmas is commercialized. So you guys are guilty in 2 way: worship of materialism and worship of pagan god mithra. If it is Jesus you truly celebrate, why did Romans not choose another date instead of the date their pagan god was born?.

      christianity in itself is pagan and has nothing to do with Jesus. It started in the same Rome by Paul. So whether it is xmas or christianity it is all pagan. Christians are pagans. Worship of other besides God or calling other god besides God is orisha. YOu are all guilty. Afeso is a pathological lair. I dont mean to ridicule or spoil your xmas but truth must be told

      Deeper life Kumuyi rejected it
      Jehova rejected it
      7 day Adventist rejected it
      God’s kingdom rejected it
      Religious society of friends rejected it

      This shows that xmas is not fundamental doctrine of christianity. Xmas is as fake as christianity.

      • DEAR AMANDA, I AM not so eager to engage you; not because you don’t make sense, but because your view seems to have been beclouded by hatred, such that you would never be objective enough to see any point in what I would engage you with. All the things you spoke of are clearly things you did not understand.

        • I know very well that you’re a pastor instead of you enriching yourself with the tithe which you fraudulently collect from your church members please eat humble pie and tell them the truth that Xmas has no basis in Christianity. I think you need deliverance yourself because all your earlier arguments was flawed and baseless. Do not deceive people because of what you want to eat, remember one day you will surely be accountable to all your deeds

          • WOW! PASTOR? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA! WHAT ON EARTH WOULD make you say I am a pastor? It feels like a bomb, brother!!!!! For the record, I am as lay as any member of the laity.

            WELL, I LIKE to engage people point-to-point. So point out anything I said that’s baseless, and make your own claim scripturally. If you don’t, I would know that the problem is not with me, but you.

  2. ng I really love your site pls don’t relent on your effort. You are touching lives if you don’t know. One of your articles on relationship helped fixed my broken marriage.
    Don’t stop doing what are doing

  3. Albert is my favourite author on this blog, his words are always on point.
    I like Tony Ogunlowo as well as Gbenga.
    Merry Xmas to you al

  4. The most obvious thing in this article is that Jesus was not born on the 25th of Dec and it’s Nimrod’s birthday. Certainly non of us will celebrate our birthday on the day that we weren’t born. Therefore all Christians need to carefully and open heartedly investigate for themselves the basis of how Xmas came about on Dec 25th. Xmas is a pagan festival that’s absolutely as clear as a day light and Jesus was certainly not born in December. Please read an article written by Reno Omokri (Xmas is for Idol worshippers). In the West Xmas is only for the big cooperation to make money nothing else. African you need to free yourself from shackles of the west and stop this brainwashing, guess who are the beneficiary of this Xmas lies; Pastors.

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