John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40)
In today’s scripture. Jesus makes clear God’s will in a very important dimension of Christian life. John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Think about that for a moment: They were trying to prevent someone from casting out demons from someone because the person was not one of their number, as if Jesus’ will would rather be to allow the person to remain possessed!
In his reply, Jesus sought to align John’s thinking to God’s thinking, his will to God’s. He said, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” Jesus was saying that this man, even though he wasn’t with them, was for them. He was on their side. It’s God’s will not to prevent anyone from working for the kingdom.
It’s God’s will not to prevent anyone from working in the kingdom.
Yet, how many times do we run into denominational exclusion. Those times when a denominational or non-denominational minister exclude others because they do not belong to the same church or denomination. How many lost opportunities occur when that happens? Opportunities for rich exchange. Opportunities to know another Christian by their works. Opportunities to engage our spirit and intellect as we listen to and learn from another Christian. Opportunities to present our love of Christ to another who feels so passionately.
That’s tragic. Its even more so because by excluding others, we miss a central part of this message.
We forget about God’s will.
It’s God’s will that we are alive. God’s will that we know him and seek to follow him. God’s will that we love one another.
God’s will. Not mine. Not yours. His.
The best part of growing our faith lies in discovering His will for our lives. That’s the exhilaration of the faith journey. Once more, it has no ending. No matter where we are, how old we are, our status in life, Jesus keeps beckoning to us. Jesus keeps acting as the compass of our lives.
If we allow him.
If we allow his will to direct us. If we allow his will to feed us. If we allow his will to prevail rather than our will.
Let’s go full circle now.
No single Christian denomination has the lock on faith. No one Church can profess that it is so omniscient that only its members thrive and prosper. No one Christian individual is infallible.
Because they are still mortals divining God’s will. God directs us according to the plan he has for us. That plan changes as we grow in our knowledge of His will for us. It also changes because we change.
God created us in love for love. We are most free and happy when we love as he loves. The love and charitable help we show to our neighbor also expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant mercy and kindness of God towards us.
Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to those in need would not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. We are called to follow his example and his will.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and joy in you, and freedom from sin and oppression.”
The Lord is, I think, asking us to imitate his sense of inclusiveness against the tendency sometimes to start with exclusion. He came to seek and save what was lost, to reunite the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to go out after the one and bring him back to the 99, ultimately to reconcile all things in himself. There’s a temptation among many religious people to focus so much on what distinguishes us from others that we lose what unites us, and as we and others focus on those differences, we pull ourselves and push others away. We can begin with what we criticize rather than what we admire. We can fault others for what they don’t get right rather than commence with what they do.Jesus’ reply is filled with wisdom: “No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me.” Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that “love is not jealous… but rejoices in the right” (1 Corinthians 13:4,6).