John said, “Master, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he isn’t in our group of followers.”
But Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him, because whoever isn’t against you is for you.”John 9:49-50
Just before this little exchange, the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest within the group, and when Jesus rebuffs them by placing a child in their midst and telling them that whoever is least among them is the greatest, they turn their attention to outside the group and, in effect, say, “Well we’re definitely greater than those guys, right?”
Just like us, Jesus’s disciples are relentlessly measuring their status and honor to see who they’re better than, and who is better than them. Just like them, we have all kinds of ways of measuring:
- Whose theology is better?
- Whose liturgy is better?
- Whose aesthetics are better?
- Whose church is bigger?
- Whose preaching is better?
- Whose discipleship practices are better?
Instead of these status games, Jesus brings us back to the point: is God’s kingdom going forward? Well then don’t get in the way (and maybe even rejoice a little!).
These people you’re upset about, are they opposing God’s work? If not, then stop worrying about them. Do you think they’re going about the work in the wrong way? Do you think they’re not part of the right team? Don’t have the correct affiliation or the right theology? Wrong question!
Better questions: Is God’s kingdom advancing? Are the marginalized brought into communion? Are the broken healed? Are the prisoners set free? Are those in bondage being delivered? Is good news being preached to the poor? Then don’t worry about them being part of the wrong group or having bad theology.
As long as they’re not against you, they’re for you! If they’re not opposing God’s kingdom advancing, they’re your partners, and there’s absolutely no need to figure out who’s better than who.