Finding Fellowship and Developing Discipleship through 'The Chosen'’s Christian Community
“The human eye is drawn to light,” Jesus says to Nicodemus during episode seven of the television series, The Chosen. “We can’t help it, it just happens.” This is the magnetism I felt when encountering Jesus in this brilliant series. But what was totally unexpected was the positive impact on my prayer life and growth of my faith that took place through The Chosen’s social media community, led by Jonathan Roumie who plays Jesus, and via the show’s video bonus extras.
For two years prior, my good friend, Tami, would periodically tell me about this fantastic show about Jesus and the Apostles that she and her husband were helping crowdfund. It took a new job, a layoff, a global epidemic, a quarantine (and Tami’s sweet patience) for me to finally pay attention.
So here I was, home with time on my hands, with fear and insecurity ready to pounce, as I began to watch the YouTube live broadcast beginning with Episode 1. Got to say, I was confused and a bit underwhelmed. And where was Jesus? I want to see Jesus. I stuck with it through Episode 2, where I was beginning to understand the unique style the director was using to tell the greatest story ever told in a way that was revealing the human side of our Lord and the personalities of those He was calling to follow Him. Then in Episode 3, WOW, there He was, the Jesus I met as a child, who was my friend, my encourager, my teacher of unconditional love.
I texted Tami, “Thank you, I love it! Let’s have a watch party and discuss it!”
The rest of the episodes continued drawing me in, as I watched Jesus ask these not-so-perfect men (and Mary Magdalene) to follow Him, calling each one by name, each one special. This personal relationship we are told we need to have with Jesus, it came to life right before my eyes. All I could think of was how I was yearning for that intimate relationship again, like the one we had in my childhood, and how I have been mistakenly expecting it from people when only Jesus can fulfill this. He is always calling me to follow Him, waiting for my surrender, for me to drop my plans for His amazing adventure with His team of disciples. Something in me was ignited.
Every episode I watched was like swinging the “test-your-strength” sledgehammer at the county fair and watching my level of faith go higher and higher, closer to ringing the bell with each strike. At a time of despair and worry for many, my time in quarantine watching The Chosen left me feeling energized and hopeful. I felt called to do more than watch. I needed to nurture this rediscovered relationship and then tell everyone about this show.
Once I joined The Chosen Fan Club Group on Facebook, I quickly noticed that Jonathan Roumie was doing Facebook Live each day. What was this all about? I was excited to discover that Jonathan was a devout Catholic and was hosting a live daily prayer hour, which included the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Litany of Humility, and even the rosary at times.
This prayer opportunity for me was a game-changer because, even though I had been participating in online Mass and prayer, my enthusiasm was struggling. Now I couldn’t wait for prayer hour, to pray with the guy who connected me back to “my” Jesus and was himself very funny, humble and sincere. Again, I texted Tami “Did you check out Jonathan’s Holy Hour on Facebook and Instagram? I always knew Jesus was Catholic!”
I was excited to dig into The Chosen’s many bonus extras on their app and YouTube channel – videos including personal faith stories of the actors, behind-the-scenes director’s clips, roundtable discussions with Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant leaders, and even Holy Land visits. These multimedia experiences enriched my mind as much as the show, and the prayer time filled my heart, all with the joy of knowing how much never-ending love God has for me, for us.
The Facebook community that has grown around The Chosen reminds me of the early Christians and how that community grew. Like the early Church, we are a group of Christian disciples who have (re)discovered the Good News; we support each other with prayer requests, share personal ways we have encountered Christ in the show, and are united in Spirit and action as an army of disciples to evangelize the world. And I literally mean the world via the power of social media, with viewers in over 180 countries, and the show translated into 70 languages.
I don’t know of an easier way to evangelize than to share The Chosen. I tell everyone I know about the show, and, if you know me, you have certainly been exposed to my passion for it. I eagerly await Season 2 and will work until then to share it to all. Maybe He is calling you now as well?