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
Free Only When I Follow
For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life (soul)? For what can a man give in return for his life (soul)? Mark 8: 35-37
Good morning Prayer Team!
Right after telling His Disciples that whoever wishes to come after Him needed to deny himself, take up his cross and follow, Jesus continued by telling His disciples that“whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for My sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35) Talk about irony.
If Jesus is the Lord of our lives, then we have to follow His rules. This is a total shifting of our lives to put Him at the center. To be a disciple, we must renounce the right to live however it is that we want to live. The call to follow, then, is essentially a call to die. We die to all the things that take us away from Him.
The irony is that unless we die, we won’t find life. If we try to save our “lives”, meaning if we retain ungodly behaviors, we are going to lose out on eternal Life with Christ, and we will also miss out on Life with Him while alive on earth. If we “lose” our life on earth, meaning that we die to the impulses, thought and actions that are ungodly, and instead live Godly, purposeful and focused lives, then we will truly live.
In order to gain my soul, I must be willing to forfeit the whole world. In order to be free, I have to be a slave. And in order to achieve salvation, I have to die to the idea that I am god of my life, and surrender my life to God. Many people have the idea of God as consultant, but not as Lord and Master. The irony is that freedom is only found in surrendering.
In the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, the translation we use for the Prayer Team and read in Church during services, Mark 8:36-37 uses the word “life”, “forfeit his life,” “in return for his life.” The original Greek uses the word “Psihi” which is best translated as “soul”. So the correct translation is “for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” The answer of course is NOTHING. There is nothing we can give in return for our souls. And nothing that we can gain in the whole world that is worth the expense of the soul. Thus, we are to surrender our souls to God, because eventually our souls are going back to Him for judgment. It is surrendering of the soul that will gain us eternal life.
These concepts fly in the face of everything we hear in the world. That’s why it is important that we are discussing them, why it’s important to study them, pray on them, and work at them. Freedom is found in surrender. Eternal life is reached by surrendering earthly life to God.
O Lord my God, in Thee do I take refuge. . .My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. . .I will give to the Lord the thanks due to His righteousness, and I will sing praise to the Name of the Lord, the Most High. Psalm 7: 1, 10, 17
Put God in the lead in all that you do today! I am most free when I am following and giving Him the lead.
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.
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