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
If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread forth our hands to a strange god, would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart.”
Good morning Prayer Team!
Several years ago at camp, a priest gave a sermon I will never forget. He talked about signs, and how each of us wears an invisible report card that says the kind of person we are. To make the point, he had made some signs which he put on one at a time. He said, “if you drink and drive, your sign says ‘I’m stupid.'” And he put a sign over his neck that said “I’m stupid.” Next he said “If you cheat in school, your sign says ‘I’m dishonest.'” And he put a sign over his neck with the word “dishonest” on it. He gave other scenarios and other signs “I’m irresponsible,” “don’t trust me,” “I don’t care about you,” “I’m all about me.” After putting on all of these signs around his neck, he put on his large golden cross that priests wear during services. The cross says “I am a Christian.” And behind this cross, you could still see the signs “I’m stupid,” “I’m all about me.” And then he put on one other sign which said “Hypocrite.” And then he said “because that’s what we are when the sign we wear behind the cross doesn’t match the cross we are wearing. When we are not acting like Christians, how can we advertise that we are Christians?”
Now, no one goes around with signs around their necks, and no one wears a large cross around their neck either (except priests in church). The signs are invisible-as he said, like an invisible report card that reveals whether we are a person of value and integrity or not. Our friends may know that we are Christian-does our real behavior and expected Christian behavior match up? Our friends may see us wearing a small cross around our necks. They still see it if we use foul language. If we wear a prayer bracelet, it is still seen when we raise our fists in anger.
The point today is, does your invisible sign match your cross. Does what you display to the public match what you are doing in private? Is what you are when everyone is looking, what you are when you are alone? And if you wear a cross advertising that you are a Christian, does your behavior support this?
Part of taking up the cross and following is displaying the cross and backing it up with our behavior. If you really did wear a large sign over your chest, what would that sign say about you? And if you put a large cross over that sign, would the sign and the cross agree?
Please think about that today in your interactions, because even though are signs are not large like the signs I described, people see your signs, and most importantly, God sees them.
What should be on our signs should be things like “love,” and “dignity”, “honesty,” “patience.” If those things are not the “signs” you wear, work to bring those signs in line with your “Cross.” And if you wear a cross, large or small, that advertises that you are a Christian, then make sure the signs behind the cross support that statement.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many gifts You give to us, that no matter how old or young we are, or how smart we are or not, that we each can wear signs of You inwardly and outwardly. Kindle in me Your inward signs of love, peace and joy. And help me to maintain my outer signs of goodness and patience, so that they match the cross that You put over my heart when I was baptized. Help me to put away hypocrisy and be genuine. Help me to be an effective witness for You today and to honor You in all that I do. Amen.
Have a great day!
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