Read: Mark 9:38-41
Are you a church club member? Wear the t-shirt, have the bumper sticker, know the lingo, the logo, the mission statement and tagline? Is any of that important or useful for building up the kingdom?
Those rhetorical questions have a rather obvious answer, I get that, yet many times we see people walk into and out of buildings we call churches as if it were a country club with exclusive membership rights.
Good news / bad news, the disciples struggled with this notion for a brief time as well:
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Mark 9:38
Hard to understand why John would make this statement. He’s one of the inner circle, the chosen within the chosen. But here we have it, they got the lesson wrong from Jesus.
Jesus gently corrects them this time, provides simple and powerful redirection:
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For 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. Mark 9:39-40
In this statement, Jesus speaks into the battle that is in fact raging on a spiritual level. The unseen warfare has two sides: those for us and those against us. Subtle, yes, but don’t miss this point.
One of the ways to guard against this mentality is to develop relationships with other churches in the city where we serve. The struggles they have are not unique. We moved a lot over the last few decades, thanks to the military, and I’ve been involved in lots of different churches as a result. I know from firsthand experience that all churches are fighting internal battles. Whether they choose to admit it or not is the difference between being effective and just getting by. Sadly, most see themselves as individual entities rather than being a part of the body of Christ.
We can change that. It’s well within our reach.
When we say “we,” the we should always mean those who follow Christ, not the t-shirt we happen to be wearing.
Make a conscious effort to be a part of the team that’s working in your region, your city. I don’t know much about Rugby, but the featured image came to mind as I thought through this. It’s messy, dangerous, difficult and challenging. Progress is hard to see at times, but as a team we can succeed.
We know we win in the end.
Someone has to carry the ball. If that’s you, protect it when the enemy tries to steal it, but constantly be looking for someone to pass it off to and score when you have the opportunity. If you don’t have the ball, support the one who does and block out the enemy, make room for him to score.
Together, working as one body, we will succeed.