Evangechesis a.k.a. discipleship

Re-read my first two posts and ask yourself, “what’s the difference between evangelization and catechesis?” Don’t feel bad if you cannot come up with a clear distinction between the two. Evangelization & Catechesis are actually two sides of the same coin. Any true catechesis involves evangelization. Vice versa, any effective evangelization involves some catechesis. I once heard someone mention – “we need a new term for these words – something like ‘evangechesis!'”

While “evangechesis’ is catchy, I think there is another term that wraps up these two ideas very well. In fact, I think this term warps up the entire Christian life very well. That word is “disciple.” This word comes with its own baggage and needs some clearification. There were not 12 disciples – those were the apostles. The disciples were not just men – they were men and women from all walks of life. A disciple, simply put, was a person who answered the call of Jesus and followed him.

The word disciples comes from the greek word “mathletes” which literally translates as “learner.” The disciples were students of Jesus Christ. Our idea of a student, though, is vastly different then the concept for 1st century Palestinians. For us, the concept of a student brings up images of sitting behind a desk, taking down notes, memorizing content, and taking tests to prove our intellcual grasp of a certian topic.

The 1st century concept of a student (or disciple) was vastly diffferent. The best way to describe their concept of student is as appenticeship. What’s the difference between a student and an apprentice? A student learns passivly, though didactice teaching methods. An apprentice learns by doing. The goal of a student is to intellectually master a certian topic. The goal of an appenticne to become like the master! We have lots of examples. Jesus was a apprentice/disciple of his step-father St. Joseph. As a child and a young man, Jesus learned the craft of carpentary. He did this not by pouring through books on the subject, he did this by actually doing carpentary, learning the language and terms of carpentary and practicing the methods of carpentary. The goal of the apprentice is to form a new identity, the identity of the master.

So what is the goal of a disciple of Jesus. Nothing less than become like our Master. We are to learn to speak, act, even think like our Master; so much so that those that see us see Jesus Christ himself.

This is why I think the term “disciple” is in many ways more helpful in identifieying a follower of Christ that the term “Christian.” In the early Church, the term Christian carried a lot of weight. It meant something. The word “Christian” derives from a derogatory term given early followers of Chirst which literally meant “little Christs’.” Isn’t that what it means to be a disciple!? In our modern world, though, it seems the term “Christian” is almost synonymous with our modern concept of a student. Anyone can identify themselves as a Christian if they mearly intellectually ascent to the teaching of Jesus Christ. “I believe in God, I beilve in Jesus therfore I am a Christian.” Christianity is not a book to be memorized, or a test to be passed – it is a way of life!

We have many, many modern day examples of disciples of Jesus Christ. I just read a interview with Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus Christ in the movie The Passion. In a very unique way, he has become like his Master in such a intimate way, that those who see him now see Jesus Christ. He says:

“I wear my role with me everywhere now. See, I can’t take my collar off. It doesn’t matter what I wear now. It has gone beyond that. People used to mouth the words, “There goes Jim” and “You can see, there’s Jim Caviezel.” Now they mouth the words, “There goes Jesus.”

check out the whole interview at:<<http://www.bustedhalo.com/features/busted-jim-caviezel/>&gt;

We all might not be actors, but in a very real way we are all called to be clothed in Christ much like Jim. May those who see us mouth the words “There goes Jesus.”


One Response

  1. Sean, Great! We seem to grow into this awarness. Our beginnings are probably enhanced by modeling. By teen and young adult we throw away a lot and begin reconstruction of our Truth. Now I am in the elder years and the slowing down allows reflection and amused amazment that God had always been in a relationship with me/us. The maturing process is blessed with the community experience. The God relationship is on going as is our eternity with Jesus . What you are doing here is quite fantastic. I love listening to you and always want to dialogue more. judy

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