As Jesus taught his disciples about what it meant to be great in God’s kingdom, it must have caused some unease in their hearts. Not only because of how they had been treating each other, but because of how they had been treating people outside of their group. And so probably with a lot of trepidation, John said,
Teacher, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (Mark 9:38)
Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. (Mark 9:39-41)
One problem in the church is that people are often very protective of their “territory.” They have their ministry, and God help anyone who would try to “infringe” on that territory.
That’s what the disciples were doing. They saw someone casting out a demon in Jesus’ name, and the demon actually left. But because the man was encroaching on their “territory,” they told him to stop.
But Jesus makes clear to them, “You’re not in a competition. He’s doing this work out of love for me. Let him do it. Don’t stop him from doing the things I’ve enabled him to do.”
We need to be the same way. We should be happy to let other people into the ministry that we are doing, even if they prove to be better at it than we are. Why? Because we are not seeking personal glory in our ministry. At least we shouldn’t be. We’re seeking to glorify God. And whenever anyone uses their gifts to glorify God, we should be praising God for that.
Unfortunately, this kind of competition also happens between churches. Churches get into who is bigger than whom. Who is doing the better ministry. Worse, they start criticizing each other because they do things differently. But that’s not what Jesus wants from us. That’s what Satan wants from us. Because if we’re too busy fighting each other, or looking down on each other, we’ll have no time to fight him and his kingdom.
Let us not get into competitions trying to outdo each other, as churches, or as people. Rather let us work together. Because ultimately, we are on the same team working toward the same goals.
Division brings discredit to the name of God. Unity and cooperation brings glory to his name. Let us be a people that bring glory to God’s name.