Daily Devotion, 01/16/18, “One Father, One Family”
“John said to Jesus, ‘Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.’ But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.’” Luke 9:49-50 NLT
I had lunch with another pastor a few years back who was convinced that his denomination was the only true church. As such, only Christ-followers from his denomination were going to Heaven. The rest of us, regardless of how deep our faith might be, would miss out because we were “wrong” in some of our theology. My faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins wasn’t enough for me to be saved. Salvation was only for those who interpreted all of the scriptures exactly as he did. Sadly, he’s not alone in the opinion he holds.
The disciples wanted to stop a man from doing ministry because he wasn’t part of their group. Maybe they were jealous because he was doing some things better than they could do them. Maybe he was drawing larger crowds. Maybe he didn’t dress like they thought he should or talk the way they thought he should or act the way they thought he should. Maybe they just felt like their group should be the only ones allowed to do ministry in Jesus’ name because, after all, they were “The Disciples.” Whatever their reasoning, Jesus disagreed with them. His response was, “Don’t stop him. Anyone who is not against you is for you.” In other words, “Get over yourself. I get to determine who gets to use my name, not you. Embrace him as a teammate, not an enemy.”
That’s a good word for us. In a deeply divided world, Christ followers should demonstrate unity. It’s okay to have different opinions about theology and practices. It’s okay to sing different kinds of songs in different ways. It’s okay to perform different kinds of rituals in different manners. Some of us baptize by sprinkling water on people. Some of us do it by pouring water over their heads. My particular tribe baptizes by dunking people completely under water. The point is that Jesus alone is the One who forgives the sin. It’s in His name that we minister and it’s His work that we are doing. Before we take a shot at someone else who is doing this Jesus thing a little different from us, let’s remember again the words of Jesus, “Anyone who is not against you is for you.” We’re not enemies, we’re on family with one Father. You are loved!
PS I’m so very thankful for the wide range of Christ-followers I get to do life with. Through FaithWalk, the Order of Saint Luke, Beth Shalom, the Association of Related Churches and my Church of God roots, I am “family” with Baptists, Episcopalians, Catholics, Pentecostals, Non-Denominationals and more. I suppose I would be considered an independent, autonomous and non-denominational type but there are no such labels in Heaven. I look forward to spending eternity with all of you!