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OPINION: The Conflict of Faith at Easter

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi

By Prof R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin, Nigeria

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – It is another  Easter week and you know that you’re supposed to be rejoicing over Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and his miraculous resurrection. However your response has been the  “wearing your usual plastic smiles” around in all the activities. You are indifference, and nothing is convincing you that Christ also died for you, irrespective of who you think you are. You’re supposed to feel all the emotions of Easter such as joy, peace, and happiness and a sense of gratitude to God.

But, if you were to be really honest, this Easter it feels like something is missing. Not just the unpaid salaries, fuel scarcity that is easing, or irregular supply of energy in our homes and offices. You feel far from God, and Easter feels more like a ritual than a reason to celebrate. You’re not sure how to make sense of what you’re feeling. Some of us  do believe in Jesus and know that we are saved only by His sacrifice; which we celebrate at Easter. But it is still like there’s a big barrier between what you believe and how you feel. Many others don’t even take Jesus as their saviour but they profess him as a mere prophet or even a prophet for the Jews only. Because the Jews are their enemies Jesus is also perceived an enemy. Jesus hates no one, not even a sinner for whom he died. Others are simply atheists, claiming that there is no God let  alone a prophet.

This is a very brief review of different faiths and their  positions on Jesus. Hence we won’t bore you to lengthy reading, except bringing you what you need to know. For example the atheists (those who deny God’s existence) merely read Jesus as an historical personage – perhaps a magician skilled in hypnosis. Whereas some amongst this class have always more or less supposed that it would be improbable that so many stories could have sprung up about a Jesus  who had never existed. Others claiming that Jesus was a merely deified human heroe and a person whose reputation got better and better the longer the time elapsed after his death. To them God is like fine wines that would improve with age.

There is also a Christian atheism  (is this the position of Nigerians?), a form of Cultural Christianity and a system of ethics which draws its beliefs and practices from the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. But they reject the supernatural claims of Christianity at large. Christian atheism takes many forms. For instance some Christian atheists take a theological position, in which the belief in the transcendent or interventionist. There exists now varying  degrees and forms of association or alienation from the church as it is constituted in the New Testament hence different congregations have sprung up claiming to be preaching about Jesus Christ, or denouncing him. Right now there is a great doubt that everyone is still speaking about the same Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the son of the Virgin Mary, whose death and resurrection we celebrate at Easter. Recognition of the centrality and uniqueness of the person of Jesus Christ is the essence of our faith. Head knowledge about a Jesus Christ is only historic and none faith building or empowering.

Nigeria is by no means a country of one religion or a country free from the consequences of differences in faiths. The unwritten political jam-lock, bedevilling  the political and economic system of the society can largely be traced to suspicion due to these differences. Hence politicians are busy investing and fanning their  religion and not their characters or achievements. It is now to be taken for granted that if a Nigerian President is a Christian the Vice president must be a Muslim, whether or not they have same motivation to work together.  We don’t know what Jesus Christ would say at such a bizarrely setting but we remember that Jesus wiped many of them away from the Synagogue. Perhaps all our political leaders need Jesus koboko this Easter Season rather than listening to their scribed speeches.

Therefore the Easter Season is certainly a period for the entire humanity, including non – Christians and people of all faiths. The major task is how to take this central message to everyone that we equally own Jesus Christ. It is because of each one of us he came, died and resurrected. Believing in him is salvation. This is the real change we preach, the change and transformation  from within. If you refuse to change from your old ways of believing, behaving, acquiring wealth, treating others and your nation, then you are just most likely a typical Pharisee. The Pharisees were teachers of the law of Moses but wouldn’t obey one of what they teach. Jesus sent them out of the Synagogue with a long wipe. If Jesus Christ visited our Senate House how many of them would he send away?

Prof. R. A. Ipinyomi, University of Ilorin


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