18 December 2007

Following Christ as a Journey

I came across this video by Bill Lizor, who works with young adult ministries out of the general board of discipleship of the United Methodist Church, entitled Prodigal Son vs Joseph & Jacob Paradigms. The focus of the clip is how do we view our journey of faith as we follow Christ. The clip is 15 minutes long, but worth a view...

This is not the first time I've encountered this theme. The best picture of this metaphor of biblical discipleship is explicated very nicely in James W. McClendon, Jr.'s Ethics, volume 1 of his Systematic Theology. (See a nice narrative about McClendon here).

McClendon's goal is to find the "momentum that carries Scripture's story forward." He captures this in three motifs: The Way, Watch-care, and Witness.

The Way focuses on the idea that the earliest motif found in Scripture is the idea of a band of travelers, e.g., "My father was a homeless Aramaean who went down to Egypt..." (Deut. 26:5). This carries through Scripture with the idea that the people of God are refugees and wanderers, looking for their home.

The journey continues in the New Testament. The incarnation of Jesus in the gospels understands Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. Seen in this light, God's command becomes highway directions for life, and the journey of Jesus to the cross is one that every disciple must follow.

McClendon ties in the remaining two motifs of Watchcare and Witness by saying that:

Watch-care is the awareness of fellow travelers on this way who need our watchful care over their own journey,...
The divine gift of Witness is to those who are not (yet) on the Way.
That is why the clip above resonates with me.

We've too often seen the journey of faith from the aspect of the Prodigal Son, with the focus on the younger son as someone outside (the other) the church, marginalized, without God. What McClendon posits, and Lizor points out, our story (or journey) is marked continually by the presence of God in our midst. The stories of Jacob and Joseph show this very clearly; the story of the Prodigal Son does not.

I think we need to rethink our approach to the Christian life. For example, how would this approach affect our evangelism? Our approach to spiritual formation?

Print this post


Post a Comment