John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”
Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.
Mark 9: 38-41 The Message
Developing a gracious spirit is one of the goals of growing in Christ. Here, Jesus’ disciples exhibit both a small-mindedness, and a smallness of spirit when they display a hostile and rebuking attitude towards other people using Christ’s name. As our text notes, ‘Jesus was not pleased.’
One of the sad legacies of the history of Christianity, almost from the beginning, is our tendency to elevate our own Christian group, and to denigrate other Christian groups. Literal wars have been fought over such issues!
We Christians are called to interact, and not to re-act.
“The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it’s not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word”
2 Peter 1:20,21 The Message
In other words, not one person has all the answers as to how to interpret the scripture, even if they say they do. Different denominations may interpret scriptures in different ways. We do not dictate what the scriptures are saying. We are called though, to follow what the scriptures teach us.
Maybe another Christian group does things in a slightly different way than we would. Maybe we prefer our group to theirs. That is alright. Yet sometimes, we cross an invisible boundary when we try to stop them.
The mission field of the world is big enough for many different Christian groups. Our rule of thumb should be asking ourselves this question, “Are they ministering in the name of Jesus Christ?” If the answer is “yes”, then we should not try to stop them.
The reality is that we all need to be each other’s cheerleaders. There are many different chants, but we are all rooting for the same team. Rejoice in this truth: if a person ministers in the name of Christ, they are our brother or sister in Christ. Don’t denigrate someone else’s different ministry. Celebrate their ministry! We need to show others our team spirit.
The ways things are going in the world these days, we all need to feel like we are on the same team, rooting for the same victory. Our jerseys may have different colors, but we are all cloaked in the spirit of the Lord. We need to see this truth for ourselves, while encouraging others to realize it as well. Those who are ministering in Jesus’ name are doing God’s work: Jesus WOULD be pleased with that attitude! May we all be characterized by such a gracious spirit towards other Christians…
Lord of all,
You are the coach of all of us. Thank you for teaching us and showing us how to love, and how to minister to others. Help heal those who have been hurt through words that have not been true to who You are. Guide us to listen to Your Word. May we be mindful of how we minister to those you have put in our lives.
We pray this prayer in Your most Holy and ever-present name.