“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
This has got to be one of the most exciting stories for me to read of Jesus. I don’t know what it is, but there is something about the idea that whoever is not against us is for us that stands out to me. This is a mind blowing statement in a lot of ways. This could mean that a lot more people than we think are actually on our team. It could mean that all the people that are doing kingdom work around us that aren’t touting the name of Jesus could actually be for us, working alongside of us, furthering the kingdom.
I think we like to get pissed off a lot that bad people do good things. I think we like to get pissed off that people who refuse to acknowledge Christ and then go off and do things that Christ would do. Or maybe we don’t get pissed off but we certainly get confused. We don’t know what to do with them. Do their good deeds override their convictions or the other way around? Does their motivation negate their deed completely? Does their allegiance? We like to think people do things for the same reasons we do them, and if not, then we question their motives or consider it to have no meaning. After all, I do things because of my love for Christ, anyone else that does anything else for any other reason has got to be wrong and certainly not on my team.
We also like to assume that certain actions guarantee certain allegiances. They did this, so that must mean that they feel or believe or have committed to this. This argument only goes so far. The disciples in this story were ready to kick someone out, or to disregard them, or at the very least get Jesus to support their uncomfortable feelings towards this guy that was doing good things. I wonder what differentiated the disciples from the other guy. What caused the disciples to think that he wasn’t one of them? Was it as simple as him just not being one of the twelve? Or maybe he was a homosexual? Maybe he was Catholic? Maybe he was a Muslim? Maybe he was homeless? Maybe he was rich and selfish? Maybe he was coming from an AA meeting or couldn’t control his sexual urges?
Jesus ends it there and sets them straight saying “listen, whoever is not against you is for you.” I wonder how often we do that. Even though someone is doing good things, beautiful things, redeeming things and we tell them to stop. We tell them to stop because they aren’t one of us, or at least we are praying for them to stop or at the very least tell me you believe Jesus is your Lord and personal Saviour, that would make it all better. So many beautiful people doing beautiful things and just because they aren’t one of us, we get jealous, refuse to believe its God or just wish they would stop and leave it to the saved ones.
Do you remember in Matthew 25 when Jesus is talking about separating the sheep from the goats? Then the chapter goes on like this starting at verse 34:
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
You know what sticks out now to me in this little tidbit. Those that were entering into the kingdom didn’t even know it. They ask the Lord when they did such great things that they deserved to be ushered into the kingdom. They didn’t even know what they were doing and it just so happened they were doing right all along. For heaven’s sake, that’s got to get you thinking about all the things we are doing now hoping for some sort of reward in heaven. I’m glad God doesn’t always work through so called Christians, it makes this entire mess so much more interesting when God uses just about anyone to do his work and then leaves the people who claim to follow him trying to keep up by being forced to follow and support those that don’t even believe what they believe. God is brilliant.