Don’t be Astonished

By now most people who read this blog have heard about Jesus Christ. You have heard about His teachings about love and forgiveness, and you have heard about the Church He established. You have heard how Jesus calls us to a different life, a life of repentance and divine grace. You have heard that no matter how bad the past has been in your life, there is always hope for the future. You have also heard that Jesus expects more from us the more that we grow closer to Him, and that sometimes it becomes increasingly difficult to choose Christ over the world. The longer you are living your Orthodox life with purpose, the more you also hear about the holy men and women who left everything to follow Jesus.

It requires a great deal of faith to drop everything and follow Christ. In today’s Gospel lesson (you can read the entire passage below) we hear about the first disciples being called by Christ. While their backgrounds may have been different, the pattern was the same. They immediately dropped everything and followed Christ because they had heard His teachings.

Take a moment and read all four Gospel accounts of the calling of the disciples, and you will appreciate the depth of this encounter with God. These men were not ignorant about their faith. Their hearts had been prepared to welcome God in the flesh. Some even discussed the details with Him before leaving it all behind, but they all left it behind to join Christ.

The message of Gospel can sound at the same time unbelievable and wonderful. It can give us inspiration and challenge our faith at its deepest kernel, never straying from the truth. God knows our hearts and He knows our desires. He has, if we are willing to accept it, prepared our hearts to hear His Gospel, and choose to drop everything and follow Him. It doesn’t mean never working, the disciples worked everyday to survive. It doesn’t mean sitting on our front porch waiting for the money fairy to make a delivery in our mailbox.

It DOES mean leaving our past priorities behind and living a NEW life in Christ following NEW priorities. The past two weeks have been a special season of prayer and fasting in honor of the Dormition of the Theotokos. Many Churches offered special Paraklesis (supplication) services in her honor, and offered names in prayer to God for healing and salvation for our friends and family members. She is the supreme example of a woman who dropped everything for God, and because of her love and devotion, He received flesh and became human for our salvation. It seems like a fitting season to rededicate our life to Christ. Don’t be astonished at His teaching. It’s time to Live A New Life In Christ.

At that time, Jesus, passing along by the Sea of Galilee, saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boats mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. And they went into Capernaum; and immediately on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. (Mark 1.16-22 – see also Matthew 4.18-22, Luke 5.2-11, and John 1.40-42)