In Mark 9:40, Jesus makes this statement in response to a question about what some “other people” are doing.
“Whoever isn’t against us is for us.” (Click Here to read the whole chapter.)
What?! I thought the saying was, “Whoever isn’t for us is against us?” But that’s not what Jesus says here. There were some others, some others who weren’t following Jesus and the disciples, who were “throwing out demons in Jesus’ name,” and Jesus says that it’s not possible to do powerful acts in his name and then quickly turn around and curse him. So, some followers of Jesus were upset when another group of people were able to do powerful things in Jesus’ name. Sounds silly. Good thing followers of Jesus today don’t get upset about stuff like that…
If I’m honest, I’ll admit that I’m usually one of the first people to be like John and the disciples, making judgments about things “other groups” of followers are doing in Jesus’ name. I especially do this if what they’re doing isn’t consistent with what I think or believe theologically.
I know enough people to know I’m not alone in this. So many people in the Church, myself included, think quite a bit about what the “other church down the street” is doing. This often leads us to do one of two things:
1) We criticize what they’re doing and pick out all the things we disagree with about what they’re doing.
2) We compare ourselves to what they’re doing, get jealous that we’re not doing them, and criticize ourselves our our church leadership for not doing them.
It is attitudes like mine, and like the earliest disciples, that have caused so much divisiveness in the Church today. Maybe it would be a good idea for me to step back for a minute and listen to Jesus here. What if instead of judging or evaluating or deconstructing what “other people” are doing, I celebrated with them? What if I viewed them as being on the same team instead of being some sort of Division rival, playing the same sport but part of a heated and bitter rivalry? So what if the church down the street is doing things that you’re not? Assuming they’re not doing harm to people, maybe that should be a cause for celebration instead of criticism or jealousy.
God, give me a change of attitude. Enable me to get over myself enough to celebrate you, wherever you’re at work, even if it’s not in my own church or ministry.
Question: What are good things happening in other places near you that you should celebrate rather than condemn or compete against?