Christmas Event: A major Change in the World that has not Changed.
On December 25, 2016, like any other year, Christians all over the world will celebrate and mark an event that has permanently shaped the world and made the world a better place. Even those who do not embrace Christianity accept that it is a significant event in human history. However, the date on which we celebrate this unique occasion has been dogged with controversies. Incidentally, attacks on the date are coming from those who identify themselves as Christians. There are historical discoveries and arguments that the dates in which Christmas and Easter are celebrated may not necessarily be the exact dates of these events. Some of these dates may have also been linked to some form of pagan celebrations. This could be true as well. However, Christmas and Easter mark events that actually happened, and are important in human history. No one has been able to prove that Jesus Christ was never born, or that He did not die and resurrect. The disagreement over the actual dates in which the events occurred is just by the way. I have not been privileged to travel to Israel to see the place and possible locations of these events in Bethlehem and at Golgotha. If I have the opportunity, it is a place I plan to visit to reinforce my faith before the second coming of our Lord Jesus. Those who have visited the locations came with the assurance that all the events surrounding Jesus of Nazareth are no fictions but events that took place.
However, there is a problem with putting our faith on dates, rather than on the real event that changed the course of history. This is what Paul, the apostle described as weak and beggarly elements for which the beloved brothers and sisters in the Galatian church got entangled with. The apostle told the Church, “Indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Gal 4:9-11). So, when we troop out on Christmas and Easter days in celebration, we are not celebrating the dates but we rather remember that the joy we have as believers in the world today was founded on these two events. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; and has given us an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for us. These two events occurred for only one major reason – That the GOD and Creator of the Universe LOVES you and me. The love that makes the whole difference in the world is linked with these events.
For many centuries, and since the destruction of the first world with the flood, the existence of humanity has been laced with searching for God. The person, personality, and deity of God has been a major challenge. The human knowledge of God is blurred by sin and the devil’s distortions. Adam and Eve knew they were created by God and not only this, they had a close fellowship with God. They knew how loving God was to them, but they also understood that God was a consuming fire, and against all manner of ungodliness. So, when they wronged God, they were afraid, and ran away for cover. But it is not possible to hide from God. The aggravated sins in the world led to God destroying the first world, saving only Noah and his family. It is not too clear why God spared Noah but since creation, God had always chosen individuals who know and reverence Him for His own purposes. There are examples: We know Enoch walked with God, and he was taken away without dying. A notable man in the history of the world is Abraham who God brought from his native home and settled him in the Middle East, in a portion known as Canaan. Abraham was the founding father of Israel, a most blessed nation in the world. So, we do not know all the facts why God chose these people for all He used them for. He is a sovereign God and He owes us no explanations or apology for whatever He chooses to do. The question God asked Job when Job appeared distraught in his pains is an eye opener to the sovereignty of God. God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” Job, like any other man had no answer to this question. When Moses, who led the Jewish exodus from Egypt sought to know who God was, God told him, “I am who I am”. That was God’s introduction of Himself. He is God.
The separation of humanity from God resulting from our disobedience and sin has made our understanding of God more difficult than it was at the beginning. The seeming lack of knowledge of God has created a vacuum and an identity crisis in humanity; and in an attempt to understand and reach out to God, multiple channels to find God known as religions were created. Earlier, the human race had depended on animal sacrifice to appease God for their sins but the blood of animals was not effective to take away human sins. God, however, did not abandon His creations made in His likeness and image. He had prepared the channel through which He would reunite with them. God’s path to do this was the plan of salvation, not only to get humanity back to Him but also to rid them of disobedience and sins which had separated them from God. So, God sent His Son through the lineage of Abraham to come into the world to redeem humanity once and for all from the curse of sin. Prophet Isaiah announced to the world: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”. (Isa 9: 6-7). This was the origin of Christmas, when Jesus was born.
And at the due time, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night and stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 8-12). At this time, there was jubilation both in heaven and on earth. There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”. The struggle to find and know God the Creator, thus came to an end. Jesus came not only to save us from sins but as a replica of God, to show us who God is. Christmas day was therefore the day when the hope of humanity was fulfilled. It was the best news ever spoken on earth – Christ the Savior is born.
When John the Baptist, and forerunner of salvation in the world saw him, he declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ (John 1:29). And John, the beloved disciple wrote: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. John further testified: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus was offered as the only perfect sacrifice for sins forever. But confusion still pervades the world as humanity keeps getting deceived by Satan, and rather than accepting the only sacrifice of God’s Son, people have continued to perform the old sacrifices that are no longer required. In their bid to reach God, people have engulfed in various forms of idolatry. Satan has made it difficult for people to believe that only one way leads to God. And the question still remains how many ways are there to reach God? I recall someone ask the question, “do you think all billions of non-Christians all over the world will go to hell?” It is distressing but, that unfortunately is the truth, and the answer is yes. Salvation from hell is not through religion but faith in Christ Jesus. God cannot do more to show us His love than the perfect sacrifice of His only begotten Son who died that we may live. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6). To another disciple who asked Him to show them the Father, Jesus responded: “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves”.
As we celebrate Christmas therefore, we must understand that it is not about the date nor about us; it is about Jesus Christ, it is about the love of God for humanity, it is about the salvation of our souls. There is no other way to see God as is being canvassed by the agents of Satan, than through Jesus Christ. Peter who was among the disciples of Jesus Christ, and a firsthand witness declared with emphasis: “There is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). Also John the beloved, who was also a firsthand witness said: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-2). Jesus told the Jews, “No one has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
The confusion rocking the world and the Church today is the issue of purportedly many ways lead to God. This has led to errors in the teaching of the gospel. And many eloquent privileged world teachers have occupied our spaces leading many people astray both in and outside the church. They teach that all of us worship the same God in different forms, Allah for Moslems, Jesus for Christians, and others; and that all these religions lead to God. Some teachers of Islam and Christianity have developed a novel idea of Christlam religion in which Moslems and Christians can worship together to the same God. It is a marriage of convenience devoid of the basic truths of scripture and has no place in the Kingdom of our God. The Pastors, Bishops, or Clergies who teach that Christians and Muslims worship the same God are clearly in error in their judgements because no one comes close to Jesus in appearance or character. Christlam religion is therefore a pervasion of the truth. The origin of Christlam which is credited to Nigeria was to unite the Muslims and Christians in which the Bible and the Koran are viewed as equal, and the worship of Allah or God are regarded as the same. Significant addition to the error is equating Jesus Christ to Moses, Muhammad, Ibrahim, etc., as prophets of God. The fundamental error in this movement is that much as we strive for unity and tolerance among the religious groups of the world and in particular, Islam and Christianity; there is the critical difference that cannot be reconciled. The true account of Jesus Christ is that He is the SON of GOD. Once this belief is removed, Christianity loses its meaning and its foundation.
It is hard for any Muslim to accept that Jesus is the Son of God. The moment a Muslim comes to this fact and accepts it, he or she has crossed to the other side of life with true salvation in Jesus Christ. Muslims simply abhor the fact of God having a son. But twice in the Bible God specifically confirmed who Jesus is. When John the Baptist performed the baptism for Jesus, and as Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mat 3:16-17). Also at the transfiguration, while Jesus was speaking with His disciples, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were fearful as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” Luke 9:34-35. If God said it, then, it is true. The history of His birth clearly stated that Mary, His earthly mother was a virgin and never experienced any sexual relationship with any man when she was conceived with the baby Jesus. All accounts about the birth of Christ showed that no man claimed responsibility for the pregnancy but only God. The stupidity of human heart leads to the question and the thought that God must act like us to achieve any result. We forget that only by the spoken word of God the world came into being. “Let there be, and it was”. I am eagerly waiting for the day all of us in the world, Muslim, Christians, and others would accept that Jesus is the Son of God, and accept the salvation given by Him and through Him, then, we would have a changed world ready for the reappearance of Jesus Christ to take us all to heaven. Without this, all the efforts of American religious leaders in the name of “Faith Shared”, Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First, Christian Science or even Christlam are mere wasteful exercise that will not change human destiny.
In this Christmas 2016, we are thankful to God in America that we can confidently say, ‘Merry Christmas again’ courtesy of the President – Elect. Christmas is not just a holiday, it is about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus is the reason for Christmas. If you remove Christ from Christmas, you are left with “mas”, which has no meaning. If there was any news the world had ever received, the best has remained the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a day of MERRY and HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all of us.
Michael is the author of Saving America: the war we can’t ignore. His new book, “Sheltered Through the Storm: The Travails and Ultimate Triumph of the Church” will be released by the Publisher by February 2017.