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.”
For you are not sent to a people of foreign speech and a hard language, but to the house of Israel- not to many peoples of foreign speech and a hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, if I sent you to such, they would listen to you. Ezekiel 3:5-6
Good morning Prayer Team!
It’s amazing the lessons that life teaches us, sometimes merely by living it-we don’t have to do any special many times to learn a lesson. I was mowing the lawn this morning, when a small car pulled up in front of the house. Two elderly men got out of the car, each was wearing a white shirt, dark tie, and dark slacks, and carrying a briefcase. They were instantly recognizable as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Drenched in sweat, I was hoping that they wouldn’t accost me, but one of them walked right up to me and asked “Hablas Espanol?” (Do you speak Spanish?). I don’t, but I knew enough to answer “No habla Espanol.” He handed me a pamphlet, written in English, and pointed at the words on the title page “There is life after death,” and he turned around and walked away.
I had two thoughts as he walked away from me-first, well, he got the essential message right, there IS life after death. Second, however, while I would have politely given him a couple minutes of my time, I would not have subscribed to what he was talking about, as I am happily Orthodox. But if I WAS searching for faith, this man would not have been helpful at all because he did not speak my language. His message didn’t fit with his audience (me).
And it got me thinking about how effective I am and how effective we are in spreading the Gospel in a language that people understand. I’m not talking about Greek or English in services. I’m thinking more along the lines of do we speak a language of genuine Christianity, or hypocritical Christianity? Are we acting like a Christian at all times, or are we undisciplined in our behavior? Do we easily get angry, or fly off the handle at people? Are our words conveying love, or are they filled with angry sentiments and profane words?
If we are trying to witness for Christ without words and actions of love, we will be no more effective than the man who tried to minister to a non-Spanish speaker in Spanish. If his “language” was one of inviting me to think as he thinks, he wasn’t effective at all. And if our language is supposed to be one of inviting others to believe as we believe, then our language needs to be one that people will understand and embrace. There is too much anger in the world, so our witness for Christ needs to be one of peace. There is too much hypocrisy in the world, so our witness for Christ needs to be genuine. There are too many flaky people in the world, so our witness for Christ needs to be consistent. And there are too many disappointed people in the world, so rather than disappoint them more, we should greet them with a message of love.
No one is expected to canvass neighborhoods for Christ today. Sadly, you might not even be allowed to mention His name in your workplace. But you can be an effective witness merely by acting Christian. For as the popular Christian song says, “They will know we are Christians by our love,” and not by our words. In whatever role you are playing today, whether it be parent, friend, co-worker, driver, store patron, let your words and actions be Christian. This is the best witness you can give for our faith!
Lord, thank You for this day and the opportunities it will present. Help me to be an effective witness for You today in the things that I say and do. Help me to have discipline to be genuine in my faith. Surround me with people who will encourage me to act in a Godly way. Help others to come to know You in some way through how I will behave today. Help me to radiate Your love, peace and hope to everyone I will encounter today. Amen.
Have a great day!
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