The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Four

The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Four

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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

Confidence and Boldness

And most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much bolder to speak the word of God without fear.  Philippians 1:14

Good morning Prayer Team!

Once in a while, someone asks me how I became a priest.  And I’ll tell them how I felt a calling from God to be a priest.  I felt it when I was seven.  I knew then that this is what I was supposed to do with my life. 

On one occasion, when I said this to a group of people, one person in the group said “You (meaning me) are arrogant.  How bold for you to think that God specifically chose you for something.”  I asked this person, who happens to be a lawyer, “Do you think that God called you to be a lawyer?”  He answered, “No, I practice law because I found out that I’m good at it and I make a nice living doing it.”  I asked him, “Are you fulfilled with your career choice?”  He answered, “sadly, I am not.” 

Sadly, in the world today, most people mistake the word “bold” for “arrogant.”  I believe there is a critical difference.  One can be bold in his or her service to God, in the utilizing of the talents God has blessed us with.  Arrogance, I believe, is when one makes his or her talent about them, in an almost elitist way and they keep God out of the picture, as if the successes are their own with not credit to God.  Bold is using a gift as best as you can and giving the credit to God.

I will always believe that God called me to be a priest.  I don’t think that is arrogant.  I don’t even think it is bold.  If I thought I was the best priest ever (which I don’t), that would be arrogant.  Every person has gifts.  Everyone does.  And everyone has deficiencies.  I certainly have my share.  One of my gifts is writing.  I enjoy it.  I’m pretty good at it.  So, in early 2015, I took a bold step of starting the Prayer Team.  It was a pretty bold move to start writing every day.  My role as a priest affords me the opportunity to speak about God.  And God’s gift to me to be able to write quickly affords me the opportunity to write the Prayer Team. 

Every person reading this message has a talent to do something.  To use your talent to the fullest will require several things.  First, it will take an awareness that you have a talent.  Second, it will take time to develop and learn to use your talent.  Third, it will take some effort to use your talent, to find the job that matches your talent as an example.  And fourth, if you want to use your talent to the fullest, it will require boldness. 

Think about the best teacher you ever had.  They were probably bold.  My best teacher was “Mr. P,” my English teacher my senior year in high school.  He made us write every day, which is how I learned to write so quickly.  He gave us fifteen minutes to write and told us he didn’t care if we wrote the beginning, the middle or the end of something.  We just had to write.  He told us, “There are 185 days of school, and so if you miss a few days or have writers’ block on a few days and can’t write anything, you’ll get a few ‘F’s, but a few failures over 185 days won’t affect your grade.”  I credit Mr. P for my ability to write quickly.  (I recently tried to contact him but found out that he passed away several years ago, a good lesson to remember to thank those who have helped us while we can.)  But a lot of people didn’t like Mr. P.  They thought he was arrogant, abrasive, sarcastic and even mean.  Looking back, he was none of those things.  He was bold—he challenged us to write in a way no one else ever did.  And it worked with at least one person, me, and I suspect it worked for others as well.  Because in reminiscing with high school classmates on social media, many of them say he was their best teacher. 

The best salesmen are bold.  The best suggestions usually sound bold at the beginning.  Saint Paul was defined by his boldness in establishing new churches, and in his writings to them.  The boldest person who ever lived was Jesus Himself.  He was neither cocky, nor arrogant.  But He was bold—talking to Samaritans who hated the Jews, and talking to the Jewish leaders who hated Him. 

To be a disciple of Christ to the fullest extent will require some boldness.  That might mean telling the baseball coach that your child is going to go to church and miss the game.  It might be asking someone to pray with them.  It might be telling a co-worker to stop living an immoral lifestyle.  Or telling the college roommate that you don’t want to drink.  It might mean visiting a homeless shelter.  Or listening to the pains of someone else even when you don’t have an answer for their problem.  It’s bold to even talk about Christ.  It’s bold to live out a calling God has for you even if others ridicule it. 

Over and over, we are reminded that the Christian faith is not spread if we are lukewarm about it.  To live for Christ, to live in Christ, and to bring others to Christ requires one to be bold.  Remember, not cocky, not arrogant, these things bring attention to ourselves.  One can be bold and bring attention to Him.

Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints, to those who turn to Him in their hearts.  Surely His salvation is at hand for those who fear Him that glory may dwell in our land.  Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.  Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.  Yea, the Lord will give what is good and our land will yield its increase.  Righteousness will go before Him and make His footsteps a way.  Psalm 85:8-13

Looking for opportunities to be bold in your life!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.

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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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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

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.”