Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:9-10
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” I Samuel 16:7
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Many of us use social media, especially “Facebook.” Many people call Facebook “Fakebook” because there is not much stuff that’s authentic on there. We tend to put only the pretty, dressed-up, happy version of ourselves on Facebook.
There are at least two reasons why we do this. First, I think is pride. We don’t want people to see the less-than-best us. We post photos of our achievements, not our failures. I’ve never seen on Facebook, someone posing with a photo of the police officer who just gave them a ticket, there are no selfies at divorce proceedings, and no one posts “feeling annoyed that my kid failed math.”
Second, I think there is genuine fear what people would think if they saw the real us. Would they be judgmental? Would they be sympathetic? Would they run away from someone who “has issues?” Would they avoid us for fear that failure is contagious?
There is a vicious cycle where everyone says everything is okay. And we are for whatever reason, afraid to break the cycle.
There is a problem with “fake,” and that is that we can fool lots of people, but deep down, we can’t fool ourselves and we can’t fool the Lord. He knows our struggles. We know our struggles. Without some authenticity, we will keep struggling. The only way to win the struggle, or even manage it, is with some degree of authenticity.
Soccer was my sport in high school. Our season ran from November through February. We were not allowed to do drills with a soccer ball until November 1. So our coaches had us spend September and October doing conditioning drills. And one of his favorite drills was to have us run laps in a pool. The depth of the pool was four feet and so all twenty of us would run around the perimeter of the pool. Once we got the current going in one direction, our running was almost effortless. But just at that moment, he’d blow a whistle, we’d all have to stop and start running in the other direction, against the current. This was really hard. Eventually, however, we’d turn the tide and get the current going in the other direction, and then he’d blow the whistle and we’d reverse. Here’s the thing. We had to work as a team to reverse the tide. If one person stopped and tried to reverse the current of the other 19, most certainly he would fail. But when all 20 of us stopped, we certainly still struggled to reverse the current, but with some effort, it could be done.
There is no way to reverse the current of the entire society. Being “fake” and showing only the dressed-up, happy versions of ourselves is part of our culture. But what about changing the course of our small group. We reflected yesterday how authenticity starts with our relationship with Christ. It gets built upon within our small group—our family, our friends, those we associate closest to. And it starts when a small group of people decide to stand against the tide of being inauthentic. One person stands little chance against the tide. But two or three or five or ten can start a new current.
Lord, help me always to know that You are real. Help me to build an authentic relationship with You. May I be inspired to bring to You my good things and my failings. Please help me to encourage authenticity in my relationships with others. Please bring others to me who will encourage me to be authentic. Give me the courage to stand against the tide of inauthenticity. Bring people into my life who will stand with me. Amen.
So today’s advice is, don’t be afraid to stand against the current of inauthenticity. Get a friend to stand with you. And if you see a friend try to reverse the current, run to stand with them.
These readings are under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder: Reading © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA, Apolytikion of Abbot Marcellus © Narthex Press, Kontakion of Abbot Marcellus © Holy Transfiguration Monastery – Brookline, MA.
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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