Luke 9:43 – While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, 44 “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask him about it.

46 An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. 47 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. 48 Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”

49 “Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” 50 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.” (NIV)

Years ago, while still in seminary, a friend and I went to pick his car up from the mechanic shop.  While we were sitting in the waiting room there was a commercial on the television for a local church.  The church was pastored by a couple who had a very different style of preaching than our own.  We chuckled and joked about their preaching style.  Just then a man walked over to us and said, “Don’t joke my pastors, they brought me to the Lord and saved my marriage.”  Needless to say, we were put in our place.  It was a lesson that I have never forgotten.

In today’s reading we encounter the disciples bickering amongst themselves about their place in the eyes of Jesus.  Then they had the nerve to complain because they witnessed someone doing great things in the name of Jesus, but they were ‘not one of us.’  Like my friend and I years ago, how easily we fall into this kind of thinking.  We tend to think that if someone doesn’t worship like us, pray like us, or do church like us, then they can’t have the truth like us.  

Jesus taught his disciples, and Jesus teaches us, that just because someone isn’t ‘one of us,’ does not mean that they don’t have the love of Jesus within them.  Our goal is not to be the greatest in Jesus’ eyes, and it is not to be the ones who possess the only way to be a Christian.  Our goal is to share the love of God in the manner in which we know.  Our goal is to worship God in truth and in spirit (John 4:24).  Worshipping God in truth and in spirit goes beyond our worship in church.  Worshipping God in truth and in spirit is about the way we live our daily lives (Romans 12:1).  We are called to live out this truth and spirit in different ways, yet we are all called.

Today, let’s not be critical of our Christian brothers and sisters who ‘do church’ differently than ourselves.  Let’s celebrate the varied ways in which God calls us to be the Body of Christ.

Posted by Ramón Torres