Nigeria: Thank God It's Good Friday

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As Nigerians join the rest of the world in marking this year's Good Friday, it is yet another time to reflect on the state of our nation still struggling in a battle with nation building, let alone development.It is indeed Good Friday, when Christians mark the passion and death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion, outside the walls of the old city of Jerusalem. On this day in history, the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross of Calvary represented the partial fulfillment of the prophesies of old, and his own predictions, regarding the salvation of the world that is to be wrought through the suffering and death of an innocent "Servant of God," otherwise called the Messiah. The resurrection event that would follow was to complete this prophecy.

All pretenses to the contrary notwithstanding, Christians in Nigeria have by their stripes demonstrated poor inclination to exemplify Christian values to others in raising national moral consciousness. Christians here have often chosen to flow with their negative instincts in dealing with everyday choices for individual and group well-being. Constituting a huge proportion of the country's population, Christians in Nigeria should necessarily ask the question: To what extent has their adherence to the life and teachings of Christ impacted on national ethos and values? Taking vantage of leadership positions in many spheres and at many levels across the land, how has the leading light of the Gospel and the values emanating from it shone to illuminate a society gripped by the darkness of selfishness and greed, hatred and violence?

As Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere mark Good Friday today, the world is struck by large-scale deprivation, devastation, destitution and suffering that assail many across the globe. Christians seem nowhere nearer a world of peace and harmony for which the event of Good Friday laid promise. With what has gone on in the intervening year since the auspicious change in national leadership, today is as good a day as any therefore for Christians to engage in genuine introspection on whether they have truly represented Christ in building a society worthy of his legacy of justice, fortitude, humility and sacrificial love; or whether they have constantly reinforced the oft-repeated charge that when it comes to living a life of contradiction to society's corrupt and unwholesome indulgencies, they have often fallen short of Christ's standards.

It bears repeating that Christ came to lay down the ground rules for a life of sacrificial love that often runs against the grain of the prevalent culture. Authentic Christian discipleship, therefore, bestows on the follower the living contradictions exemplified by Christ's constant rejection of the popular socio-cultural norms and practices of the society of his day.

Good Friday occurs at the summit of the Holy Week when Christ endured the passion of his crucifixion and ultimately offered up his spirit on the promise of superabundant life and salvation for his believers - but to the extent that they obeyed God's will, love and served others like him. Good Friday invites the Christian to recognise the significance and centrality of the Cross as the symbol of loving sacrifice. By his endurance to the end, Jesus teaches an unending lesson in coping with pain and suffering for a good cause. He teaches that relief from hard and evil times is not achieved by the idle rejection of suffering, but by recognising and accepting that suffering, taken upon oneself in love, can oftentimes be salvific.

In essence, today is not the beginning of a much anticipated holiday for Nigerians to lose themselves in reveling with great abandon. It is a day to meditate on the paradox of Christ's suffering as a precursor of glad tidings. It is a day of reflection and sobriety, a day to rethink the true value of the Cross of Calvary on which the Christian faith is grounded, and a day to redirect the energies of all Nigerians wholly toward a new dedication to promoting the ultimate prize of salvation that Christ has bequeathed.As Nigerians enjoy a happy celebration of Good Friday, may the lessons of love and sacrifice so vividly taught by Jesus Christ find a fertile ground in their hearts.

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