Devotional -

For Us or Against Us? ( 24 May )

Jesus called the twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Then he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick . . . A man shouted from the crowd, "Teacher! I beg you, look at my son - my only son! A spirit attacks him with a sudden shout and throws him into a fit, so that he foams at the mouth; it keeps on hurting him and will hardly let him go! I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn't." . . . John spoke up, "Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name, and we told him to stop, because he doesn't belong to our group." "Do not try to stop him," Jesus said to him and to the other disciples, "because whoever is not against you is for you."
Luke 9:1-2, 38-40, 49-50

How easy it is to see myself in this picture. I know that I have been given authority by my Lord to minister, and I have my ways of doing that. However, when I see someone else doing a similar ministry but in a way that is different from mine, something inside me suspects that they are doing it wrong. What is worse, I may not even know how they are ministering; it is enough for me to know that they belong to another denomination or another congregation, and I am already doubting whether they can be true servants of the Lord like I am.

These wonderful disciples of Jesus-how very human they were-had been given authority by Jesus to cast out demons, and they had been mostly successful. But then they encountered a case where they failed, and Jesus had to come and help them out. Fine. None of us can do everything; we have our limitations.

Amazingly, however, when they saw someone else succeeding to do the thing where they had only limited success, they told them to stop. Why? "Because he doesn't belong to our group."

Is that really the test of whether someone is a true disciple of Jesus or not? Far too often I fear we require that other believers be just like us before we are ready to recognize the validity of their ministry or even their faith. Worse than that, we may even have the audacity to demand that they stop what they are doing in Jesus' name.

May God forgive us and help us to see the other believer the way God does: if they are not against us, then they are for us.

- 24 MAY -