The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part One

The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part One

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The Cost of Discipleship—The Distorted Image and What It Means to Surrender—Part One

 
 
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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

God’s Intention in Creating Mankind

Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every living that creeps upon the earth.”  So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  Genesis 1: 26-27

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Why did God create us?  Perhaps this question is best understood when we answer the question, “Why do we create children?”  No one who absolutely hates his or her life would want to bring a child into the world.  We bring children into the world because we have at least some love of life and some love of love.  We want to bring children into the world so that can have life and experience love.  We do not bring children into the world to fail and to suffer, even though many fail and many suffer.  We bring them into the world with the hopes that they will succeed and do well.  We also know, however, that they have free will and may choose to not succeed despite our best efforts to encourage them.

God existed as Trinity from the beginning of time.  God is uncreated.  And God created everything that was created.  In Genesis 1:1-3, we read “In the beginning, (notice how the Bible intentionally does not mention a period of time, for God is timeless, and without beginning) God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.  And God said, ‘Let there be light;’ and there was light.”

“God created” refers to God the Father.  “The Spirit of God” refers to the Holy Spirit.  “And God said,” refers to the Word of God, who would later be incarnate as Jesus Christ.  The Trinity existed forever, and existed in a state of perfect love, perfect union, perfect oneness.  God chose to create out of a sense of love, and a desire to share His love with the world that He would create. 

God, in Trinity, created light and darkness, heaven and earth, land and seas, plans and trees.  He created the sun, the moon and the stars.  He created the fish and the birds, as well as the cattle and other “beasts of the earth.” (1:25)  After each “day” of the Creation, God looked upon what He created and “saw that it was good.” (1: 12, 21, 24) 

God created mankind in His image and likeness.  He created man to experience love as no other created creature could experience it.  He also created man with a soul, a God-like feature that is the beginning and ending of every human life.  The soul is placed into the human being at conception by the Lord.  And now, after the Fall, the soul is housed in the body until the time that the body undergoes a physical death, at which point the soul returns to God for judgment. 

God created us to be like Him, to exist in communion with Him, to love one another as God experiences love.  In fact, in verse 1:30, we read “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.”  This is the only time in the Creation account that we read the word “very”, because only after the human being was created was the creation very good, for mankind is the crowning jewel of God’s creation, the only creatures to have a soul, the only creatures who will be able to enter into Paradise. 

God did not create us to fall, but to succeed.  He created us to live in communion with Him and with one another, to love one another as He loves us.  The image of love is why we were created, and was the image that God intended us to have.  That image was distorted by the fall of mankind, something we will discuss in the next reflections.

Of old Thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.  They will perish, but Thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment.  Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away, but Thou art the same and Thy years have no end.  The children of Thy servants shall dwell secure; their posterity shall be established before Thee.  Psalm 102: 25-28

We don’t think of ourselves often as being created in the image and likeness of God.  Think of this phrase and conform your life to fulfilling this blessing—we are created in the image and likeness of God, to be in perpetual communion with Him!

 

+Fr. Stavros

         

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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: Wild Olive

 

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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.”