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.
Go-To Verses from the Bible
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37
Good morning Prayer Team!
Advertisers tell us that it takes anywhere from 7-10 ads for the viewer to remember anything about a product. This is one of the reasons why “love” gets into these messages so often. Because we need a reminder that the whole “thing” boils down to one word—love. What do I mean by the whole “thing.”
First, the Bible can be summarized in one word: Love. Someone once described the Bible to me as “God’s love letter to humanity.” The Bible tells us how God created us out of love, and when we fell away from God, that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John3:16) The Bible begins and ends with God’s love for us.
There are lots of commandments in the Bible. Most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments, though most people cannot name all ten. There are actually 613 commandments in the Old Testament alone. Most of us have never read all 613, let alone memorized them. Jesus summed up all the commandments in the Bible in today’s verse. Love God and love your neighbor. So when you are wondering, what do I have to do to be a good Christian, it’s actually pretty simple to answer—love God and love (serve) others. It’s not easy to do, but it is easy to say.
Jesus tells us that our identity as Christians is based on love. In John 13:35, Jesus says “by THIS all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have LOVE for one another.” Love is the identifying marker for us as Christians. It is not big churches or big crosses, but big hearts—hearts that love God and show love for one another.
Jesus also tells us that our entrance into His Kingdom will be based on love. In Matthew 25: 31-46, He talks about the sheep (the righteous) as those who fed, clothed, welcomed and visited the least of their neighbors. He talks about the goats (the condemned) as those who were indifferent to the needs of others and who failed to serve the least of their neighbors.
From time to time, I have heard it debated whether we should kneel in church on Sundays. Some will argue that we aren’t supposed to kneel on Sundays, in honor of the Resurrection. Others will argue that since we don’t go to church every day, if we didn’t kneel on Sundays, we’d never kneel. To which others say, “Is it ever wrong to kneel?” (Actually, the only time it is wrong to kneel in church is when receiving Holy Communion, we are supposed to stand for that).
I bring this up because love is something for which there is no debate. We are always supposed to show love—to God, to our neighbors, to our friends, even to our enemies. It is never wrong to love.
The Bible is God’s love letter to us.
The two greatest commandments are love God and love our neighbor.
Our identity as Christians is based on love.
Our entrance into God’s heavenly kingdom will be based on love.
Lord, thank You for loving me so much. Thank You for Jesus Christ, Your Son, who died and rose from the dead so that I can have eternal life. Thank You for teaching us what love is. Help me to love You more and more and to serve my neighbor with humility and joy. Amen.
It (life, Christianity, salvation) all boils down to one word—LOVE.
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: For God’s Glory Alone Ministry
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