Rejecting Passive Discipleship

Have you ever had an experience so amazing and so exciting that you can’t help but tell your friends and family about it? Maybe it was an overseas vacation or a movie you saw, or maybe you’re just a really passionate fan of a sports team. Regardless of what it was, wouldn’t you want to share it with everybody?

Before he died, Pope St. John Paul II said, “To be Christians means to be missionaries, to be apostles. It is not enough to discover Christ – you must bring Him to others!” That might seem like a difficult teaching. First, we had to know and imitate Christ. Now we have to bring Him to others? Not exactly. They aren’t two different endeavors; the two are intertwined. The trademark characteristic of a true disciple of Christ is their ability to bring others to Christ through their love.

Marcel LeJeune joined Morning Air and John Morales to continue this discussion about true discipleship and the deceptive nature of passive Christianity.

Marcel recently wrote an article for titled “Passive Catholic Discipleship is a Recipe for Failure”. In it, he talked about the reason there is so much conflict in the Church right now and how to remedy the issues we see.

While we hear from the news outlets the stories about scandal, corruption, and the decline of practicing and knowledgeable Catholics, Marcel argues that these are merely symptoms of the deeper issue at hand. We have replaced Jesus with other gods. “These gods wear many faces and the world knows them well. Power. Greed. Lust. Pride. Etc.” We have softened the teachings of the Church to convey the message that they’re not really teachings so much as suggestions. You don’t really have to go to mass. You don’t really have to go to confession. There’s not really a heaven or hell.

Some Catholics are using this “lite” version of the Faith to pick and choose what they’ll believe, what they’ll obey, what parts of their lives they’ll let Christ touch. “The problem is – it doesn’t work. Christianity is meant to be difficult, radical, and extraordinary. Jesus wants to be Lord of every part of our lives, not just the easy parts.” Marcel went on to say that we have to stop re-creating Jesus into what we want Him to be and come to know Him as He actually is.

To return from our false gods of sin to the one, true God, we have to start with Jesus. He did not become flesh, die, and rise from the dead so that we could cherry-pick our way to salvation. He came to provide us with a binary choice: We can follow Him, or we can reject Him. If we follow Him, we had better be ready for criticism, hardship, suffering, discomfort, inconvenience, and sacrifice. Part of that sacrifice is being willing to share Christ with others.

As Marcel said, we need to stop living our Faith out in that “upper room”. We need to stop preaching to the choir and living in our little bubble of safety. While we aren’t called to knock on strangers’ doors or be sidewalk preachers, that bold apostolate begins with those around us. That departure from passivity begins with our friends, our family members, our coworkers, our acquaintances, people we meet at the store, at parties, at the doctor’s office. The opportunities to share the gospel are innumerable.

And we don’t have to share the gospel as if we’re a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’re not called to confront people with quoted passages from scripture or the Ten Commandments (unless the situation specifically calls for it). The best way to spread the word of Christ is through the example we set. St. Josemaría Escrivá, known as the saint of ordinary life, said that the most effective form of evangelization was the apostolate of discretion and friendship. Your friends and your relatives who do not practice the faith have no interest in the gospel if you ambush them with Scripture. They should witness your good example, your friendliness, your attractive personality, your good nature, and they should wonder what gives you joy! “By good example good seed is sown; and charity compels us all to sow.” (St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 795)

All around us are instruments to express our love for God. We are called by our baptism and confirmation to use those instruments to not just tell others of the way to Christ but show them. By living out our true discipleship, others will follow if they seek happiness, and everlasting life.

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.