As we rejoice and celebrate with Christians all over the world today, there is a lot in the Easter story that resonates for all humanity. Easter time, as one Christian authority put it, is a forceful reminder “that the human spirit cannot be confined. It does not deny the reality of death, but it offers us an assurance that God has preserved life beyond the grave.”
The sacrifice, love, mercy and unity that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ exemplified are some of the enduring values of Easter that transcend doctrine and they are worthy to be reflected upon by all Nigerians at a time like this when we are increasingly suffused with rhetoric of hate and incitement to violence. The application of the virtues of Jesus Christ would no doubt address some of the challenges facing our country, especially given how deeply divided we have become as a people.
Easter demands that we all rise above bitterness and strive to live in peace with one another. President Muhammadu Buhari underlined these in his Easter message when he urged all Nigerians to “use this auspicious season to show love to our neighbours, and cater to the needs of the less-privileged in our midst,” adding: “Our nation is currently gripped with gloom over unfortunate killings, kidnappings and violence…This should not be. We must reinforce the bond of brotherhood and good neighbourliness that citizens of a cohesive country must share.”
The mystery of today’s celebration is anchored on the fact that Jesus chose death because that was the penalty to which all in the flesh were liable on account of sin. In taking this dolorous path Jesus was able to bring salvation to mankind. As we therefore rejoice in His resurrection today, we must also pause and reflect on the sacrifice of the cross. A day such as this also calls for us to shun selfishness and dedicate our energy to the promotion of the common good as we seek to build a new society based on mutual respect.
Perhaps more than at any period in history, it is important that Nigerians use this season to reflect on things that bind us together rather than on those that divide us. We must use religion to not only strengthen our nationhood but as a vehicle for deepening harmony. Besides, Easter’s enduring message, which is about love, can be transmitted by sharing with the less privileged of our society not only material possessions but also through simple gestures like kind words and sincere smiles. Unfortunately, that is where we fail most miserably. And the tragedy of that failure can be seen in the poverty and deprivation of majority of our people.
It is noteworthy that Christians stake their eternal destiny on the message of Easter which is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ who demonstrated a remarkable form of servant leadership, by washing the feet of His disciples in the days preceding His death on the cross. As an eloquent testimony to the virtue of selfless service to the people, Jesus fed the hungry, healed the sick, consoled the sorrowful and wept for the dead. He remains a model for those who would lead, especially at a time when human miseries continue to worsen.
What Easter then demands of Christians, and indeed all of us, is the need to shun unbridled individualism. It is only when we adopt this selfless attitude that we would be able to focus attention on other people, their safety and welfare as well as the optimal allocation of scarce resources for effective implementation of policies for the greater good of our society. And as the message of a resurrected Jesus Christ continues to give hope, peace and strength to people around the world, we wish all our readers a very happy Easter.