At one time it was impossible for people to assume that there was a world beyond what they knew. But for more than a century now, the world has become a global village.
But even then, a lot of Christians have the Us vs. Them mentality when it comes to dealing with non-believers (though we are not the only ones who have this problem). There are certain areas in Pakistan where virtually all Christians in the city live in close proximity with each other.
What should be our relation to people outside the Church, and even with those Christians who belong to different denominations?
I recently came across a text in the New Testament that speaks directly to this situation:
38 “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.”39 “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, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. (Mark 9)
Here we have the disciples coming to Jesus complaining about a certain man that was reported to be driving out demons in His name. If we go back to chapter 6, we find out that Jesus gave this power only to His disciples.
So naturally this group thought that how can someone who is not one of us do what only we are supposed to do? But let us first try to guess who this outsider really was. Some have suggested that he was disciple of John the Baptist who was awaiting the Messiah.
However, if that were the case, why didn't he join the official band of the Messiah’s followers? This is the background in which we have to understand the concerns of the disciples.
Now try to walk in their shoes and ask yourself, would we not have responded in the same way? How many times someone from outside our congregation or prayer group has a fulfilling ministry, yet we dismiss them by the very same words that the disciples used for this unnamed exorcist?
As the tension builds up, Jesus shocks everyone by saying, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me”
In other words, if someone’s words or deeds are bringing glory to the name of Christ, we cannot stop that person, even if they are 'outsiders'. That man was bringing glory to Christ’s name by driving out demons, whereas the Pharisees accused Jesus of being satan’s agent for doing the very same thing!
Jesus knows His sheep. He knows the difference between a believer who not yet matured and a blasphemer. Recall what Moses said to Joshua when he complained about some men from outside the tent prophesying:
“I wish that the entire Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”
And Paul says:
“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race!”
How many of us have this heart? Who wants to share the spiritual blessings in the Christ with people outside the tent who are not one of us?