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”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples
Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
And Joshua said “Take good care to observe the commandment and the Law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
Good morning Prayer Team!
The third and final definition for the word “engaged” refers to having a contract with someone for something. For instance, our church “engaged” a landscape company to plant some new trees around our campus. We have entered into an agreement with them—they provide a service, we pay a fee for that service. However, they “serve” to our satisfaction. They don’t get paid until we are satisfied.
To “engage” Christ in our life is somewhat similar to business “engagements” that we are familiar with. However, it is not Christ who “performs” according to our satisfaction. Rather, we are to “serve” according to His satisfaction. When we “engage” Christ, we commit to fitting our lives around Him, not fitting Him around our lives. We agree to serve Him and follow His commandments. One of the hymns of the funeral service in the Orthodox Church says “In return for Your mercies, my heart is set on following Your commandments unto the ages of ages.” (Funeral Service, Trans. by Narthex Press) We are to be obedient (at least as best as we can), and He is merciful and compassionate if our effort has been sincere. We are to rise above the fallen world (at least as best as we can) and He will raise up from this world to heaven if we have been faithful.
Unfortunately, many people see Christ as a vending machine—we put in a prayer, we take out a desired result, like when you put a dollar into a vending machine, and choose what snack you want to eat. Others see Christ as a good luck charm—When I was a kid, people used to carry a rabbit’s foot in their pocket for good luck. Some people wear a cross hoping for the same good luck. And still others see Christ as an insurance policy—better to have Him and not need Him than to need Him and not have Him. So they go through the motions of Christianity, in order to “have Him in case He is needed at some point.”
God chose to engage humanity at the Creation of the world. Christ chose to engage humanity at His Incarnation, and again at His cross. The challenge for us is do we want to engage His mercies in exchange for our effort, to engage His forgiveness in exchange for our repentance, to engage His love in exchange for our service, to engage His salvation in exchange for our lives.
Commitment, involvement and an exchange of our hearts for His love and mercies, these are the definitions of what it means to be “engaged” in the life of Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your many blessings in my life. Thank You for the blessing of my very life. Thank You for the gifts and talents with which You have blessed me, and for the wonderful people with whom You have surrounded me. Thank You for giving Your life for me, and engaging with the human race to lead us to salvation. Help me each day, beginning with today, to take steps closer to You, to become more committed and more involved in serving You and serving others. Help me to always find joy in being “engaged” in the Christian walk. Amen.
As we “engage” in “business” today, let us not forget to engage in “spiritual business” as well!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
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.
Photo Credit: Reflections from the Center
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