The gospel introduces us to a person
From the beginning gospel is good news. And that good news is Christ. God made man who comes to earth to save and rescue what had been lost (Mt 18:11), came to restore the kingdom of God on earth and came to seek the lost man. Then the gospel, the good news, is a person, Jesus Christ.
Gospel is not a change of religion, it is a relationship. A deep and direct relationship with God. It’s communion with God. Jesus did not come to bring a religion, but came to reconcile the human being with God. He came to restore our relationship with God.
The gospel saves people
The gospel is, among other things, the good news of what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus Christ died on the cross not because of a program, not because of a religion, not for activities, not for meetings. He died on the cross by people. He died on the cross by Gabriel, died on the cross by Pepi, died on the cross by Georgina, died on the cross by Irene, died on the cross for each of us. He didn’t die from activities, by programs, by religion, by meetings, he died of people.
So the gospel is a person, focused on saving people. It’s reconciliation and relationship with God. Then it is also related to brothers and sisters, communion with more people.
Discipleship is about people
The good news not only includes an event where I receive salvation, but gospel also contains discipleship, which is the path to perfection, in which we are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. The Lord sent us to make disciples (Mt 28:10-20). We call this discipleship. Discipleship is not a program, it is not a meeting, it is not activities, it is not an event. Discipleship is caring for and helping people in their growth and development.
For discipleship we have developed some teaching programs to help us focus on biblical foundations. For years we have used what we call «Porerta, Way and Meta». Teaching is good, everything it contains. The material itself is good, the problem is when we fit into that material and use it for programs and forget that we use that material with people. If people are there first and then we use this material it is good, but often the priority is to convey the teachings.
Then in the end the gospel from the beginning and on its journey is people. We have to take care of people. We have to help people. We’ve taken it more like teaching, a teaching program. But we have to help, care, accompany, encourage, exhort, correct people.
Discipleship is caring for people, helping, accompanying
He makes no disciples in meetings. Discipleship is not a program, nor an activity. Discipleship is relationship. He becomes disciples in a coexistence, teaching by the example of life, transmitting life. From one person to another.
Discipleship is caring, accompanying people. It’s asking him questions about how he’s doing, how he feels, how he lives, how he’s leading his life, how he’s managing with some particular circumstances, with some problems. How can we go with him? How can we help you? That’s discipleship. It’s not programs.
How ugly it is when in a discipleship relationship the questions only focus on programs and not people! Type: Did you do such a thing? Did you go that way? Did you visit this one? When are you going to hang out with him? Why didn’t you go to such a meeting? Did you memorize such a verse? What do you remember about what we read last week? Focused on programs we forget about people.
Empowering people in their development
Then at a point of growth, the brother reaches some spiritual maturity, we get to a point of starting to serve others in the church, discipleship also has to do with empowering people. That is, maybe we have walked with a brother six months, a year or two; we know that person, we know what his talents are, what grace God develops, we help him recognize the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God has placed in his life. So we also help you work, we encourage you to use those gifts. In this way we are enhancing it, we help it in its development. May the brother serve God with greater excellence.
It’s empowering, it’s empowering. It is to be able to help the disciples recognize the potential they have in their lives. What God has put in them, whether naturally, by birth (talents) or supernaturally, through the Holy Spirit (gifts), which God has been putting throughout life. It is to help them see that grace, those talents, those gifts that God has placed in their lives. And help them to use them, to develop them, to multiply, to put it at the service of the kingdom of God, and to bring glory to God. Because in the end for that the Lord gives it to us.
Each of us is good at something. Nobody among us is too bad at everything. We’re bad at a lot of things, we’re good at some things, too. Then we don’t have to focus so much on how bad we are. How bad people are, or how bad cultures are. Naturally we focus on the negative part. So, while still seeing the evil to correct, we have to focus on that grace that God has placed. Help him see it. Help him understand it more, and start working, practice it, live it, and then keep growing on it and perfect it. And so bear fruit for the kingdom.
That should be a bit of a disciple’s work, understanding the limitations that each disciple has, but then those who are in leadership function within the church are the ones who will complete those faults in the limitations that disciples have. And ultimately, those who are in the ministry, that is, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, should complete what is missing.
Another thing of the utmost importance. We have to take care of the weakest. We talked about this at the beginning of the confinements, it was like a call of attention, to say: «In this time we have to take care of the weakest». Those who have a harder time relating, going out, moving, who may find it more difficult to feed themselves spiritually, the weak in faith, need to take more care of these people.
This should always be the case, not only in times of pandemic and persecution, we should always take care of the little ones. Many times we are so focused on «production for the kingdom», in programs and activities, that we forget about people and much more we forget about the most helpless.
In those brethren who are developing more or less normally, we should rely more on the work of the Holy Ghost and what they are doing in their relationships. And so be more attentive to those who are alone. The Lord taught us, speaking of the body, that those who are weaker, those who are less decorous, we dress them more worthily, we treat them with more decorum (1:22-24). Well, that’s what we should do in church.
What about the way down?
The Lord also told us that the good shepherd leaves the 99 sheep (Mt 18:12-14). They are there together, they can hold on because they are together, they shepherd each other, they all go together everywhere, where there are pastures, where there is water, they shepherd each other. Then the good shepherd can leave 99 and go and look for the loss, the pernil-broke, the one that got trapped in some bush, in some wire, you have to go get that one. And that’s the job of the good shepherd. We have to pay attention to this, because the risk we are constantly taking is that we are so busy that the 99 are cheerful, happy and entertained. Programs. We thought: well he missed one, but he wasn’t well, he was a difficult, complicated brother. But the Lord says, no, leave 99 and go find the lost.
Then the gospel and making disciples are about people. In the end it’s all about people, not programs and activities. It’s taking care of people. So we should always remember this, keep an eye on it.