God is in Your Neighbour
Nigeria as a vast nation is made up of more than 200 tribes, although these are categorised into three peoples: the Hausa-speaking regions (the Northerners), the Igbos (the Easterners and Southerners), and the Yorubas (the Westerners).
These peoples all have different languages, cultures and beliefs but are yet bound as one nation, guided by their great constitution. This scenario, of course, is common among most countries of the world today.
The unity among these peoples of Nigeria, and their ability to accept each other wholeheartedly despite their ethnic, cultural and religious differences, has been the key to the country’s success over the years.
The nation Nigeria is beautiful with all her people working together as one, which boosts the economy and makes living affordable. Nigeria’s success is the reason why the country is referred to as the “Giant of Africa”.
But that Nigeria’s glories are quickly fading away. It has suffered so much loss of lives and of property, the worth of which cannot be fathomed, as a result of the desire for personal glories, pride and greed. And that originated from a loss of unity and togetherness in the nation.
This is also increasingly common in most countries that are at war or experiencing crises and chaos on several levels.
Greed and the hunger for power and fame are part of the menace to unity.
Jesus advised us to “seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all things shall be added unto you” (Mt 6:33). In seeking God we hope to see his face, feel his hand in our lives, know his will and plans for us in virtually everything that we do in life.
How is it then that many can neither see God nor feel him? The psalmist who opined, “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (121:1b–2); now asks: “How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?”
But the Scriptures made it clear to us that God is close and always with us. He is there in every being around us. He is mighty in us and his love manifests in us all as well.
Conversely, the devil locks us away from God by making us detest and neglect our fellow humans through our pride, greed, hate and strong desires to destroy them.
Sacredness in each other
In his first letter, St John teaches: “No eyes have ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 Jn 4:12). So God is made present in all his gigantic magnitude in every person around us.
This is why we are meant to discover the sacredness in each other, respect and cherish one another. It’s one of the reasons why we are referred to as the “Sanctuary of God” (1 Cor 6:19) — we are meant to see God and the full extent of his grace and love in each other, for help comes more likely from those around us than it does from God raining down manna from the sky.
So we are meant to illuminate the light of God’s love in each other, by reaching out to them in love and in return feel God’s touch through others around us, too. That is the opposite of pursuing our personal and greedy interests.
It wouldn’t have been too hard a task for God to create each person in their own universe alone, but the wisdom in Scriptures makes it clear that we are all closely knitted together in this one universe.
This explains Jesus’ injunction: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do unto me.” In other words, whatever we do for each other, we are doing unto God; the person at the receiving end will appreciate you and God, for help came from you (affirming Psalm 121:1-2).
And by searching and meeting one another’s needs, we create a better society, putting in motion a cycle of love that ensures the we all suffer less in this world.
Nigeria understood this level of peace, unity and togetherness after its first civil war in 1970. But the enemy — the devil — has brought the division, and this time around in full force.
In the past ten years, more than a million Nigerians have lost their lives at the hands of their fellow brothers and sisters.
The response to that is to stand up for the cares of one another and be there for each other, knowing that God is present in every person we see around us. For when all is said and done, all that will matter to God is what we did for love’s rewards.