A child might wonder why only three months after Christmas, which marks the birth of Jesus the Christ, we are about to celebrate his death and resurrection.
When did the man Jesus get the chance to grow up, live, work his miracles and to teach lessons?
I will simplify things and explain to the inquisitive child this way: ‘Well, the three month-period between Christmas and Easter is the equivalence of the 33 or so years Jesus lived!’
As children are known to do so profoundly, the Question and Answer session will continue between us for a while.
The child in me also wonders about many other things regarding Christianity. Here are just a few.
The mystery of the Jesus-story:
I once read a story about Christian Missionaries during pre-colonial days speaking to village elders in Kenya in a grand effort to convert them to Christianity.
As salesmen of all sorts do, the white Missionaries went on and on about the virtues of their religion.
According to them, this Jesus was the son of God so the natives should pray to God through Him.
The elders listened attentively and responded that they also have gods through whom they pray to the one Supreme God!
They argued that the difference was the intermediary through whom one gets to God; that it was the same God, the Supreme Being, the maker of heaven and earth.
But Christianity appears to have a leg-up in this matter of intermediaries.
It is the only world religion that can brag that its founder did not just die like all human beings.
The empty plush tomb found on the third day after His death is such a powerful imagery with hope smeared all over it for believers.
The bloody horrific death did not conquer Him. He prevailed over death by rising from the dead. Even more: He is said to have resurrected and left planet earth!
This is what makes Christianity unique; that our founder, although he died 2000-plus years ago, still lives—and because He lives, we the followers will also live even after death.
Easter is the clutch, the pillar that holds the Jesus-story together. Without it, the mystery crumbles like a pack of cards.
Christians could say to someone who uses a river, rock, tree or any other dead person as an intermediary to get to God: “See, my Jesus was so powerful that He rose from the dead.
He was so awesome that after He defied death, He rose from the grave and was lifted up to heaven!”
As a rational being, one of the things I struggle with is not to over-rationalize some of these remarkable stuff about Christianity. I’ve learned to accept that matters of faith are above rationality.
So somehow, I manage to shut up and believe! For this reason, methinks that Easter should be more central to the life of Christians than Christmas that has become a victim of capitalism with its attendant over-commercialization.
Of corruption, lousy sanitation and other matters:
If you stay put with the neat version of the Jesus-story—of Him being the Son of the Living God, of His perfect and holy nature, of the nickname Christians for the followers of Jesus, of the saying that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’, and of many other such profound beliefs and sayings, then certain things in Ghana as a predominantly Christian country do not make sense at all.
Why is it that although Christianity appears to have over-taken Ghana, yet certain un-Christian attitudes prevail; and are probably getting worse?
Try looking for something to buy on Sundays! Ghana literally shuts down and relocates to the many churches big and small scattered throughout our land.
Yet, it appears that Christianity does not offer us the silver bullet on a golden plate! We humans must do the hard work of cleaning our dirt and make the needed effort to live Christ-like lives.
Anything less and the Christian label does not hold true; it becomes a fraudulent claim.
Christianity should be a way of life and not a bragging label. Someone should see you and remark, ‘Oh, that person is a Christian!’
A tourist must enter Ghana and from the neatness of our streets, from the honest non-corrupt way government officials behave, remark: ‘Oh truly, Ghanaians are Christians! They don’t cheat. They don’t play hanky-panky in both low and high places. They are just like Christ!’ Obviously, we need more quality and not quantity Christians!
Pastors and self-promotion on billboards:
Who was the first pastor who got the almost-brilliant idea to pose for a cute photograph of himself to be taken, blown up to a larger-than-life size and placed on billboards by roadsides?
That pastor has done Ghana a lot of harm. As inventions go, is that the best thing that pastor could have contributed to Ghana?
He and all others who have joined the bandwagon and continue to overwhelm our roadsides with their photographs on billboards are in need of redemption this fine Easter season.
When you look at these pastoral photographs on various sizes of billboards, you cannot help but wonder where Christ is in these public displays.
The photographs and the messages that accompany them depict persons who look gay and hearty, worldly and business-like with no touch of Jesus, pompous, puffed-up and ego-driven.
Many don’t even look Christian because they convey nothing that is Christ-like.
They could be independent operators who are starting their own religions instead of being part of Christendom.
Many of these billboards are solely about the individual pastors’ need to self-promote and self-aggrandise. More specifically, who benefits from the grand public display of the self on billboards—Jesus or the pastors?
Does Jesus’ followers increase or the personal bottom-line (hard cash and resources) of the pastors enhance?
Of Prophets and Fetish Priests:
When I was growing up, it was a common sight to see traditional priests and priestesses in public. (I don’t know if the word ‘Fetish’ priest/priestess is out of politically correct usage).
These were priests from our traditional loins, possessed with our gods/goddesses who are supposed to inhabit our rivers, streams, creeks, trees, stones and other inanimate objects.
With Christianity taking centre stage in our religious consciousness, has the spirit and power of Jesus immobilized our traditional spirits of old? Where did the spirits go? Have they gone to yonder with our diminished forest groves, never to return?
Likewise, when I was growing up, I don’t recall that there were prophets in Ghana! I grew up thinking that prophets were bearded old funky-looking characters in the Old Testament bible days.
But these days, you could easily come across a prophet—a living breathing walking talking preaching Ghanaian who is called a Prophet. From what I hear, most of them are young. Who determines who a prophet is? Where have all these prophets come from?
Is it at all possible that some of the fetish spirits of old hover around and have entered Christendom, and even inhabited some Christians of today? Scary stuff! Lesson: not all that glitters is gold!