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Opinions of Monday, 28 December 2009

Columnist: Karikari, Isaac

Thoughts on the Essence of Christ's Birth

By Isaac Karikari (

Christ in the animal stall was Christ in the world, for the glory of man was lost, he had degenerated into something else. Man had become very much like the cud-chewing ruminants amongst which Christ lay. Always thinking, always theorizing but remaining basically the same-fallen. The stall and the animals were thus a picture of man and the present state of his world. Christ in their midst was a manifestation of God’s glory and the beginning of man’s restoration – that is the essence of Christmas, if it is taken as Christ’s birth.

The birth of Christ is in a sense God’s response to calls and cries of distress. It follows, if I may say, the same “format” by which Moses was sent to Egypt-God had been touched by the cries of His people for a deliverer, and thus sent Moses (Exodus 2:23; 3:7, 3:9).

We live in a world which we wish was much better than it is considering the tales of the gory incidents of chaos and anarchy, and very disturbing tales of woe.

However, what have been the results of human efforts towards making the world a better place?

Deep down, within each one of us we know the superficiality and fleetingness of the peace deals leaders in conflict zones claim to have brokered and achieved. World leaders continue to struggle as they are unable to come to a consensus on the approach that should be adopted regarding the issues that confront us. Events characterizing the recent meeting in Copenhagen on climate change is a case in point. Unfortunately, many of such situations await us.

Daily we groan and cry out seeking help, and an escape from the chaos and madness around us. We cry out for help from a power greater than ourselves, a power the existence of which some, though they seek and desire, still deny. Our best efforts will never truly yield the results we desire. They will only plunge us further down the abyss of woe. The best of our efforts amongst other things bring to the fore our limitations, and expose our frailty as humans. In His mercy, God chose to look beyond the folly generation after generation of humans indulge in-engaging in secular thought and coming up with secular projections in the face of challenges. We simply ignore Him, relegating Him to the background as though He never existed, ironically to our own destruction. That is the thought Paul was alluding to in Romans chapter 1 verses 21 to 32, saying:

…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful but, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…

Christ’s birth is an indicative of the offering of a means of escape from the gloom and doom that continues to engulf all of humanity. Undeserving as we may be of this He still offered it to us.

Indeed darkness shall cover the Earth and thick darkness the people but for those who put their trust in God, those who accept His offer, He gives a covering of glory. It is not wrong to say that God extends an invitation to all, but we also have to realize that it is His response to our distress. That is what the birth of Christ is really about. It is about getting to know, and understanding the purpose and meaning of our existence.

It is about knowing what life ought to be, that is what life is and not what we have made it be-materialism and hedonism. Material possessions have a function they play in our lives and so does pleasure. However, the meaning and purpose of life is not summed up in these. Rather in these words of Christ:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36, New King James Version)

he gives us an indication that life transcends the material. There is a far greater aspect-the aspects of the spirit and the soul. It holds the key to our liberation. Sadly, that is what a lot of us have missed hence His coming. It is about true liberation in the midst of all the ills that plague humanity. It is, essentially, about rest for our souls.