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.”
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
Stewardship: Giving to God What Belongs to God—Part Thirteen
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Today’s reflection will continue on our unit of stewardship. The reflections on July 24-25 will be on the scriptures for the feast of St. Paraskevi (which is celebrated on July 26) and on July 26-27, they will be on the scriptures of the feast of St. Panteleimon (which is celebrated July 27). We will return to the stewardship series next Monday, July 30.
Good morning Prayer Team!
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who live in me. (Galatians 2:20) What a statement! How close is your life to this statement? Mine is not close, by a longshot.
The goal of our lives as stewards of our time, our talents, our resources, is to imitate Christ with them, to live as Christ lived. When Christ died on the cross, He surrendered not only His time, His talent or His treasure, He surrendered His WHOLE LIFE!
We know that the crucifixion was a necessary precursor to the Resurrection. So it is with our lives. If we want to be resurrected with Christ, then we must be crucified with Him. We are called to lay down our very lives for Him. Many saints of done this—they have literally died for Christ. That’s why they are saints. There have been many monastics throughout the centuries who have given away their very lives (and possessions) and dedicated them to prayer and service.
So, what about the rest of us? I’ve got a family, a job and thankfully they aren’t killing Christians in my town. I don’t want to die any time soon, and thankfully there won’t be much of an opportunity in my city. How can I be crucified with Christ in 21st century America?
The answer comes from the next phrase of this verse: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” This takes us back to very early on this series when we talked about giving Christ the wheel of our lives. As if we are the car and He is the driver. He takes the lead in what we are doing. He makes the decisions. We submit to His will.
That doesn’t take away our free will. That doesn’t take away our fun. That doesn’t take away our need or ability to earn an income and support a family. It means, however, that we do all of these things under the umbrella of Christ. That Christ figures into how we spend our time, what we do with our talent, and where we spend our money. We can have fun, but it should be wholesome and not destructive. We can earn money, but a portion of that income should go to charitable causes. We can utilize our talents, not only to make money, but to serve others. We can make decisions, but we should make decisions that are in line with Christ’s teachings. We can sit with whomever we want at the lunch table at school, but we should have an eye out for the person who has no one and invite them. We can root for the little league team we coach to win, but we aren’t going to cheat in order to achieve victory. We can go out on a Friday night and have a good time but no one needs to become drunk and undignified.
In our church services, the altar boys carry a processional cross at certain times. The cross is held out in front of the person carrying it. This is a metaphor for Galatians 2:20. We are to carry the cross of Christ in front of us. It leads. He leads. We follow. It’s not the other way around. We don’t have the cross behind us. We don’t set it down and only carry it when we feel like it. We don’t fold it up and put in our pockets, and take it out when it is convenient. And we don’t throw a towel over it and pretend we are carrying something else.
“The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” means that we joyfully carry that cross in front of us. Yes, there is sacrifice because that cross is heavy and sometimes even inconvenient. But more than sacrifice, there is joy, because we know that He is in the lead, and we know that if we follow, He will lead us into eternal life. We know that our “crucifixion” will lead to the Resurrection.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to Thee, when my heart is faint. Lead Thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for Thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Thy tent forever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of Thy wings! For Thou, O God, hast heard my vows, Thou hast given me the heritage of those who fear Thy name. Prolong the life of the king; may his years endure to all generations! May he be enthroned forever before God; bit steadfast love and faithfulness watch over him! So will I ever sing praises to Thy name, as I pay my vows day after day. Psalm 61
Consider how your life reflects Galatians 2:20. Let Him lead. Eagerly follow. Carry His cross with joy!
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: Crosswalk
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