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Making disciples of all nations

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Matthew 28:19

The Gospel lesson in the Orthodox Sacrament of Baptism quotes Jesus telling His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” As Orthodox Christians, we inherit this instruction of Jesus as if He were speaking to us today. Some people call this phrase the Great Commission – the directive to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to all nations, and to baptize all people in the name of the Holy Trinity.

Do you know who was the first disciple to be called by Jesus? A book about the saints, called The Prologue from Ochrid, tells us “He was the son of Jonah and brother of Peter, born in Bethsaida and a fisherman by profession. He was first a disciple of St. John the Baptist, but, when John pointed to the Lord Jesus and said: ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ (John 1:36), St. Andrew left his first teacher and followed Christ.”

And so the Holy Apostle Andrew is known as the First-Called.

As Orthodox Christians, every one of us is called to some type of ministry.
Our goal in life should be to use the gifts that God has given us in order to serve Him. We need to pray that God will reveal to us what He has in mind for us in our lives.

God rarely shouts in our face, but He does whisper in our ear, and over time we find ourselves coming to the gradual realization that we are called in some way to His service. But why are we here? What is God’s plan for us? This is something that we should ask ourselves every day, praying that He will use us according to his plan.

Each of us is here today as part of a Christian community, trying to grow in our faith in Jesus. We don’t have to be adults to have a ministry. You don’t need to wear a priest’s collar to have a ministry. Your ministry begins now. God will use your strengths and your weaknesses to reveal His strength and to bring others to Christ.

To have a ministry is to have a strong interest in people. There is no relationship between people that is insignificant. Ministry is built upon relationships.

One priest, who is now a bishop in Albania, is a man who embodied the Christian qualities of humility in service. Father John saw the good in all people and learned something from every person he met. He loved to speak of his belief in the good in all people – “Look for GOD in people” he would say, “and you will find Him.”

Father John loved to say, “Teach by what you are.” And his actions spoke louder than any words. Saint Gregory the Great instructs those who would be Christian leaders that we should make ourselves heard rather by deeds than by words, and that by our righteous way of life we should leave footsteps for others to follow.

Living life by trying to see good everywhere, Father John encouraged others to see the world around them in a positive light. In a culture that loves to complain, and has refined it to an art, he saw dissatisfaction and complaining as a “passport to do nothing”.

And so this month as we commemorate the baptism of Jesus, let’s remember His instructions to us which are read at every baptism to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We can be like St. Andrew and all the apostles, responding to Jesus’ call to share His good news with all people.

~ Amen ~

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