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. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros 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
THE ENCOURAGEMENT PROJECT
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Good morning Prayer Team!
Many of you reading this message remember Michael Jordan, the famous basketball players. I remember one of his many commercials had a theme song which repeated over and over again, “If I could be like Mike, if I could be like Mike.” Of course, many kids wanted to be like Mike. They wore his “Air Jordan” shoes, bought the products he endorsed and pretended to be him in backyard basketball games. They flocked to the TV when he was playing. In fact if you have a few minutes, go to YouTube and search for “if I could be like Mike Gatorade commercial” and listen to it. Get the tune stuck in your head. Then continue reading this message.
The motto of the Christian is “If I could be like Christ,” or more correctly, “I want to be like Christ.” Imagine if you had this tune playing in your head. Go to the Michael Jordan commercial, get that song in your head, and then change the words to “If I could be like Christ, if I could be like Christ.”
Isn’t that the goal of the Christian life—to be like Christ. To live as He lived. To love as He loved. To forgive as He forgave. To trust as He trusted. To die in faith, as He died. We all had dreams when we were kids of which athlete or actor or actress or princess or superhero we wanted to be. Well, as teens and adults, we should have dreams of being like Christ. We should dream of all the good things we can do. We should dream of all the kindnesses we can offer. We should dream about loving more perfectly. And then, unlike our fantasies of being a superstar athlete or actor which didn’t come true for most of us, we should make these dreams come true, by striving every day to be like Christ in some way.
Christ personified not only love, but kindness. He had time for the losers of society, the outcast leper, or the despised blind man, the hated tax collector, and the accursed harlot. To be like Christ means to look out for those who are forgotten. It also means to not forget those who are right next to you. It means not to neglect your spouse, even when kids, work and activities drain all of your energy. It means not to neglect your children, even when they’ve worn out your last nerve. It means not to neglect your relationship with Christ, even when life gets hard and you start having doubts.
In today’s Bible quote, Jesus said “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Sometimes I wonder if that is true. It is hard to be a Christian. It is hard to be like Christ all the time. But then I think, it would actually be harder to not be a Christian. I can’t imagine life without an ultimate goal and purpose—salvation. Without Christ, I would just become older and sadder, watching the sand pour out of the hourglass of my life.
If I am trying to be like Christ, then every day has a purpose and a focus, and because of that, even a bad day has joy. And as the sand empties from the hourglass of life, there is not sadness but joyful expectation. Because the days of “being like Him” will soon become days of “being WITH Him.”
So when you are “heavy laden” with stress or sadness, be like Christ and you will find rest. Focus on being “gentle and lowly in heart” and your soul will be comforted.
Lord, be with me in the times when my soul feels heavy. Bring rest to my soul. As I take up Your yoke, please walk with me in my stressful yoke. Help me to be gentle and lowly in heart. Help me to be humble. Help me to live for You, with You and in You. Give me the discipline to work to be like You. Allow me one day to live with You. Bless me as I strive to be like You in my life today. Amen.
“If I could be like Christ. If I could be like Christ. If I could be like Christ.” Let these words play in your head today!
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