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

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

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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

A Glimpse Into Paradise—Walking with God in the Garden of Eden

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there He put the man whom He had formed.  Genesis 2: 8

And the man and his wife were both naked and unashamed.  Genesis 2:25

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.  Genesis 3:8

 

Good morning Prayer Team!

Have you ever wondered what heaven is like?  I’ve heard this question discussed many times, and more often than not, the answers are very secular in nature—“My golf game will be much improved,” “the bars never close,” and “uncle Louie is probably hanging out with his poker buddies,” are answers that I typically hear.  Have you ever taken a moment to really think what it is going to be like?

Rather than our usual one Bible quote, today we examine three short verses from Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 that give us a glimpse into the Paradise is like, beginning with the description of the Garden of Eden. 

In Genesis 2:8, we read that the Lord God planted a garden in Eden and there He placed the man He created.  In other words God created a special place for the man He created, a special place where them man would never be in want, or need, of anything, a place of Paradise which man shared with his Creator.  Imagine sharing your home with God.

The second verse is taken from Genesis 2:25, and speaks of after woman was created.  It says that “the man and his wife were both naked and unashamed.”  This means that not only were they unashamed around each other, that Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed before God.  Not only does nakedness refer to physical beauty.  It refers to a certain level of openness with God.  In walking around, man didn’t have to cover his body.  And in speaking with God, man could speak freely to God, as if talking to a friend.  There was not need to “cover up” and say anything untruthful. 

The third verse we examine today, taken from Genesis 3:8, occurs after the Fall of mankind (we will examine the Fall in the next reflection).  It is of note because it describes “The Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  In Genesis 3:8-24, God walks in the garden looking for Adam and Eve, who have hid themselves.  The way these verses read, we understand that God walked with Adam and Eve, or rather, they walked with Him in the garden in the cool of the day, naked and unashamed, until the day of the fall, when they hid themselves because they were ashamed at what they’d done.

Adam and Eve shared a “friendship” with God.  They “walked” with Him.  They “talked” with Him.  They were “unashamed” around Him.  They share a divine fellowship with God.  This was the state of mankind before the Fall.  This will be the state of those who are judged worthy by the Lord to enter Paradise. 

These verses remind of us our divine purpose, that God created us to share a divine fellowship with Him.  This is why we are made, as we wrote in the previous reflection, in His image and likeness, so that we might share in His nature, so that we might have a close friendship with Him, so that we might be privileged to walk with Him, to talk with Him and to be with Him. 

All of these purposes were thwarted by the devil at the Fall.  The purpose then of Jesus Christ, and the purpose of our Christian journey of repentance, is to reclaim the divine friendship enjoyed by Adam and Eve.  The purpose of life is to be “engaged” in a relationship with God, continually deepening this relationship, so that we can one day walk with Him in the cool of Paradise, and in the meantime, so that we can walk with Him on earth with joy and without any sense of shame. 

Prayer, Scripture reading, worship, confession, and Holy Communion, among other things, are ways we can experience the Divine Fellowship with the Lord in the present.  While these experiences do not last all day, they can be life-altering.  And they can prepare us for the day when we will stand before the Lord for judgment.  If we have made a sincere effort to grow a Divine Fellowship with the Lord, we will look at the Judgment with joy, with confidence, and without fear of condemnation, ready to take the next step, to once again enter Paradise and walk with the Lord, in the cool of the day.

“Hearken to me, you who pursue deliverance, you who seek the Lord; look to the rock form which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.  Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many.  For the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.”  Isaiah 51:1-3

Share a Divine Fellowship with the Lord in prayer today!

 

+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: Fr. Peter Preble

 

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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.”