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.
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
The Benefits of Being a Disciple—Rewards You Can Reap Today—Part Four
And a multitude followed Him, because they saw the signs which He did on those who were diseased. John 6:2
Good morning Prayer Team!
Christ is Risen!
Many people followed Jesus because He was magnetic and charismatic and those are two very attractive qualities people look for when desiring to place their allegiance with someone. In today’s verse, we read that multitudes followed Jesus “because they saw the signs which He did on those who were diseased.” (John 6:2) Today’s reflection in on “signs.”
Because of the signs Jesus was doing, healing all kinds of infirmities, working miracles, and His attention getting speeches, people were following Him. If we asked the people of that time, “If Jesus was wearing a sign, what would that sign say?” we’d probably get answers like “charismatic, loving, amazing, different, inclusive, kind,” and many other such positive attributes. Jesus was able to bring others to Him not only because of the “signs” He was working but because of the “invisible sign” He was wearing, the sign that showed He was safe, loving, caring.
Each of us wears a sign concerning our Christianity. What does yours say? Does it say “Excited,” “I love the Lord,” “Thy will be done Lord,” “I eagerly follow”, “Come join me”? Or does it say “I’m dull but at least I will go to heaven”? Or does it say “I only go on Christmas and Easter,” or “It’s really hard to believe,” or “I’m not sure what I believe,” or “God has disappointed me a few too many times,” or “I’ve given up the fight, there is no God”? Or does it say “I’m a hypocrite—don’t judge me by what I do, only by what I say”?
Do our signs convey what the Gospel wants us to say? Do they convey love, sacrifice, service, commitment, joy? Or do they convey lukewarm feelings and lukewarm actions?
Our churches also have “invisible signs” on them? Our communities are walking advertisements for Christianity. What does the “sign” on our community say about the community? Does it say that our community is welcoming? Engaged? Involved? Charitable? Perpetually late? In a state of growth? In a state of decline?
We are about to discuss specific rewards of being a disciple. And as we get ready to discuss rewards that we can reap today, it is important to pause and talk about this concept of what on our signs, both individually and as a Christian community, because we won’t be able to reap the rewards of Christianity if our signs are wrong. A sign that says “hopeful” is ready to look for the reward. A sign that says “discouraged” is likely to miss it. A sign that says “Christ is at the center” will reap more than the sign that says “Christ is an occasional thought.” If we can get our “signs” right, the rewards are there to be had. If we can get the “signs” in our community right, the rewards are there to be shared within the community and far beyond it.
Today I leave you with some questions to ponder: What does your Christian “sign” say? What does our church’s “sign” say? Think over what our signs say and what we can do to change, if necessary, our personal and church signs so that others can see the rewards of being a disciple of Christ.
Incline Thy ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life for I am godly; save Thy servant who trusts in Thee. Thou art my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to Thee do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of Thy servant, for to Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For Thou, o Lord, art good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on thee. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; hearken to my cry of supplication. In the day of my trouble I call on Thee, for Thou dost answer me. There is none like Thee among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Thine. All the nations Thou has made shall come and bow down before Thee, O Lord, and shall glorify Thy name. For Thou art great and doest wondrous things, Thou alone art God. Teach me Thy way, O Lord, that I may walk in Thy truth; unite my heart to fear Thy name. I give thanks to Thee, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify Thy name forever. For great is Thy steadfast love toward me; Thou has delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol. O God, insolent men have risen against me; a band of ruthless men seek my life, and they do not set Thee before them. But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and take pity on me; give thy strength to Thy servant, and save the son of Thy handmaid. Show me a sign of Thy favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame, because Thou, Lord, hast helped me and comforted me. Psalm 86
Think about your sign and what on your sign might need changing today!
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: Twitter, James Martin, SJ
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