Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What does it mean, "Follow Me"?

When Jesus says, "Follow Me," (John 1:43) what does he expect of us? In the Gospel of Luke it says, "they forsook all and followed Him." (Lk 5:11) Does this mean we have to give up our career, our family, our worldly possession to follow Christ? 

Bishop Augoustinos of Florina writes,
No. For we saw that those who, like Apostles, are called to a special extraordinary mission to leave all these things.
This leaves us with the question, what does it mean then for us?  Here is what the the Bishop says,
Listen! Besides the things that comprise one's material goods, which everyone––even the poorest person––has to some degree, there is another bounty––one that is not material or visible, a wealth that is not blessed but damnable, and which has collected in our secret coffers by the meddling Satan. This bounty is vice, evil, and passion. 
To follow Him we must overcome our passions, those forces within our being that lead us to act in ways counter to the will of God. Passions are difficult to give up. Even when they lead us to miserable lives physically or mentally we find them hard to give up. We seem to be attached them and love them more than anything and would never think of separating ourselves from them.  We see this in the extreme in the alcoholic who will not separate himself from his passion for drink. We can see the same in the addicted gambler, the womanizer, and the glutton.

Bishop Augoustinos writes,
The passions are the possessions, the principle possessions, which we are called to leave, to separate ourselves from, in order to follow Christ (Luke 14:33). For one to leave material goods and put them at Christ's disposal is a praiseworthy act, but it is not as difficult as cutting oneself from one's faults, evils, and passions....Passions stick to our beings like a turtle's shell adheres to its body. They compose a second nature, and evil nature. 
We need to reflect on how the Apostles left everything to follow Christ and then ask ourselves, "What have I left for the Lord's sake?" Or, "what has my faith cost me up to now?" We are not asked to give up our jobs, our retirement savings or leave our families. We are asked to give up our bad habits. All of them.

Bishop Augoustinos says,
Have I left them all? Or have I maybe forsaken only a few bad habits which never bothered me much, and kept certain pet passions that I call "human weaknesses" to ease my conscience, but ones the Gospel or Christ condemns?
Each of us must examine ourselves and ask ourselves these questions. How important is our salvation. Remember, it's not a given just because you say you believe in Jesus Christ. You must demonstrate your faith and love of God by your actions just like the Apostles. Our salvation should be the most important responsibility in our lives. When that day of judgment comes around you do not want to be left short changed. Remember the virgins who were waiting for the coming of the Lord with their oil lamps and they did not have sufficient oil to keep them lit? At the last moment they had to go and get more oil and they were not able to enter the bridal chamber with Christ.

Bishop Augoustinos says,
Woe to us if there is any weakness we decide not to forsake. We will remain far from the Lord. Is there a greater calamity than this?  Therefore with His help, let's banish every sinful burden, and as well-girded soldiers follow the glorious path of the martyr.
Saint john Chrysostom says,
Forsake only your evil habits, and remaining in your own homes, you can easily be saved."
Reference: Follow Me, by Bishop Augoustinos of Florina, pp 68-71

1 comment:

  1. I will not give my free will to no o utbody being Amen


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