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
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 Eleven
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. Acts 2:41
Good morning Prayer Team!
While most of us won’t be teachers as a vocation, just about everyone will have the experience of teaching someone something. There is a great fulfillment in the moment when “the light bulb goes off” and someone learns something because we have taught them. The first example that comes to my mind is years ago when our son finally learned to ride a bike. After many attempts, scrapes, falls and tears, one day he rode the bike. As the “teacher” I felt so fulfilled that my “student” now had a skill he will use the rest of his life. Obviously, riding a bike isn’t the key ingredient for a successful life. However, knowing Christ is such a key ingredient.
Just as there is fulfillment in teaching someone how to ride a bike, or learn math, or throw a ball, there is great fulfillment to be found in bringing someone to Christ. In Mark 10: 46-52, we read the following:
And they came to Jericho; and as Jesus was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timeaus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”” And Jesus stopped and said “call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, Take heart, rise, He is calling you.” And throwing off his mantle he sprang up and came to Jesus. And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Master, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Him on the way.
In this story, a blind man desperately wants to get to Jesus. The crowd rebukes him. It seems as though he will not get to meet Jesus, or receive the miracle he so desperately wants. Then the disciples go and intervene and tell Bartimaeus that Jesus wants HIM. This encouragement is what allows the miracle to happen. Imagine what the disciples must have felt, leading this man to Christ and then seeing what Christ did for him.
This same joy can be ours. When Jesus invited the first disciples to follow Him, He said “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) We are called to make disciples. But there is a reward in this—we receive joy and fulfillment from seeing others come to know Christ. There is a joy in seeing others reeled in and brought to Christ.
I feel personally fortunate to know this joy as an Orthodox priest. Part of the privilege of what I get to do every day is share Christ with others, and see their joy when they come to know Christ, or when they come back to Him. We all know the story of the Prodigal Son, how the father was so happy when his lost son came home. I feel this joy when someone comes to confession, and this is before any words are said. There is a joy when someone “comes back home” to Christ.
Just like we are all capable of feeling the joy of teaching someone something they didn’t know, we are all capable of teaching someone about Christ, and feeling the joy and fulfillment of knowing that something we did brought someone else a greater understanding of the Lord. Of course, we can’t be teachers if we do not have knowledge to share. So, in our work as disciples, we need to be good students so that we can be good sharers of what we know.
There are opportunities to share Christ every day. The easiest is to model Christian behavior. There are opportunities periodically to talk about your own faith. And as we get more comfortable with our faith, there will be opportunities to pray with others and minister to others.
Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me; for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day long. Be mindful of Thy mercy, O Lord, and of Thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to Thy steadfast love remember me, for Thy goodness’ sake O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. .For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great. Who is the man that fears the Lord? Him will He instruct in the way that he should choose. He himself shall abide in prosperity and his children shall possess the land. The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Turn Thou to me, and be gracious to me; for I am lonely and afflicted. Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me. Oh guard my life, and deliver me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in Thee. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. Psalm 25:5-22
Share Christ with someone today, either by talking about Him, or modeling what it is to follow Him.
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: Bible Study Times
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