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
Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10
Good morning Prayer Team!
This week’s topics will focus on learning and teaching. As students and teachers return to school and as parents and families get into the school rhythm again, it is an important time to remember that the things we find in school—students, teachers, homework, tests and graduation—are part of every Christian life long after one formally graduates from school.
A student is one who learns. A disciple is one who follows. It is interesting that the words “student” and “disciple” are both the same word in Greek, “mathitis.” This would make sense, as a student of math is in some sense a “disciple”, a devoted follower of the study of mathematics.
As Christians, we are called to be both student and disciple. We are called to be followers of Christ. However, we cannot follow what we do not know. So, in order to follow after Christ, we must be students of Christ. We must study the Bible, we must learn how to pray, we must learn the tenets of our faith, so that we can be good disciples, good followers.
Perhaps the reason that so many are falling away from Christianity, and why even many who are staying are lukewarm in their faith is because they are not good students of the faith. When I was a young student, I was exposed to all the academic disciplines, as all students are. I found that there were some subjects I just had no aptitude for, science the first among them. And I found there were other subjects that I was very devoted to—history and anything involving writing. Hence I have become a devoted follower of history and a disciplined writer.
Unlike school, where there are many classes, in Christianity there is really one subject that matters, and that subject is love. It doesn’t matter if you know church history if you haven’t learned how to love God and love your neighbor. The study of love is a lifelong study. We learn about God’s love for us and get many good pointers on how to love our neighbor from reading the Bible. We also learn how to stay close to God even when everything is going wrong in our lives from reading the Bible. We learn to love “on the job” so to speak, through simple daily acts of kindness.
The word “disciple” itself has a Latin root. The word “discipuli” mean student also. And from this word comes the word “discipline.” Another definition of student is one who is disciplined in learning. The student does not only learn when he or she feels like it, but follows a “disciplined regiment” in learning. Similarly, the devoted Christian is the disciplined Christian, not the occasional Christian.
The disciplines of Christianity include prayer, reading the Bible, acts of charity and worship. If these disciplines are not part of your daily regiment (worshipping is a weekly discipline), then start by making a small place for each today. Five minutes of prayer, five minutes of scripture reading, and seek to do one act of kindness each day, and plan to go to church this Sunday. Put together a semester of this and you are well on your way to being a dedicated disciple, a dedicated student of the Christian faith.
Lord, bless those who are in school. Bless students and teachers. Help all school environments to be places of safety and learning. Help me also to be a good student of Christianity. Help me to have the discipline to pray and to read scripture, help me to be a kind friend to those I know and even to strangers. Help me be disciplined in my thoughts, my words and my actions. May I seek to glorify You in all of them. Amen.
Be a good student today!
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