. . . and he didn’t say “Go, therefore, and make Christians of all nations.”
In fact, look closely at the New Testament. You won’t find the word “catholic” at all. You’ll see the word “Christian” for the first time in the book of Acts, referring to the community of Antioch where the people there were first called Christians.
Notice the reference there. Called. They were “called” Christians by outsiders. A fitting label to someone who didn’t know much about them.
Nope, we were not sent to make Catholics and we are not even sent to make Christians.
Instead, look at how Christians in the New Testament referred to themselves.
Instead of “Catholics” and “Christians” you will find these words in the Gospels and Paul’s letters when Christians referred to each other:
- those who were saved
Here is what Jesus actually said:
“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. And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
There is an important lesson here for anyone interested in doing evangelization, especially the new evangelization.
When you shift your understanding of evangelization from making Catholics and Christians to making disciples, you start to see Christ’s commissioning to “baptize” and “teach” in a whole new light.
How do we do evangelization? We invite people into a relationship–a relationship with us and a relationship with Jesus.
The goal is not membership, its relationship. The membership thing happens later.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.”
You can’t make disciples without a relationship to a teacher. You can’t do evangelization without introducing people to a Person: our teacher, master, friend, brother, Father, savior, and king.
Jeffrey Pinyan (@PrayingTheMass)
I once explained to 6th graders in religious education what it means to be a disciple of Jesus: it means “to learn from” Him, to be a student of Jesus the teacher. It means to apprentice under Him, to listen to Him and learn the “craft” of being a Christian. It means to follow Him, accept His correction, and imitate His example.
If only we had disciples today, to show others how to be disciples!